The robots are inspired by the way cells travel through the bloodstream to wounds to assist with healing.
How it works: The 25-strong cluster comprises disc-shaped robots, each equipped with magnets around the edges and cogs so they can “stick” to their neighbor. They can only move in two ways: by expanding or contracting. When carefully timed, this motion lets the individual robots push and pull one another to achieve coordinated movement. The robots, described in a paper in Nature this week, are also equipped with sensors that let them detect and then gravitate toward light sources.
Benefits: By working together in this way, the robots can navigate around obstacles, squeeze through gaps, and keep on working even when individual units malfunction. The promise of robotic “swarms” is that they can be responsive, flexible, and robust, the researchers said. A similar paper in December 2018 showing how robots can autonomously swarm by communicating with each other using infrared.
Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.
A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?
Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.
The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent
My avatars were cartoonishly pornified, while my male colleagues got to be astronauts, explorers, and inventors.
Roomba testers feel misled after intimate images ended up on Facebook
An MIT Technology Review investigation recently revealed how images of a minor and a tester on the toilet ended up on social media. iRobot said it had consent to collect this kind of data from inside homes—but participants say otherwise.
How to spot AI-generated text
The internet is increasingly awash with text written by AI software. We need new tools to detect it.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.