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25 мая 2018, 15:10

Battery of Bots Work Together to Move Objects

Stay on target

French researchers found that tiny, mindless robots can do something most humans struggle with—cooperate.

Building on previous studies, a team from the University of Bordeaux placed a bunch of pill-shaped toy bots into a circular pen and let them loose.

Four centimeters long, with colored plastic and itty-bitty legs, the mini machines’ vibrations propel them forward at about 30 centimeters (12 inches) per second.

Restricted to a solid ring, the robots zig-zag around with “random abandon”—like gas molecules in a confined space, according to Phys.org, which cited a paper recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters .

Nothing new there: Previous research has shown that small, self-powered bots with no computer control behave the same way, “wandering aimlessly.”

But by adding more pieces, the analysts discovered a sort of peer pressure in which the robots formed two groups at the edges of the corral, while the rest continued along haphazardly.

(Warning: Once you notice the hilarious capsized bots, it’s hard to focus on anything else.)

“They noted also that the membership of the groups constantly changed as the tiny robots careened about,” Phys.org said.

That’s not even the best part, though: When the hard-walled ring was replaced with a flexible one, the creepy-crawly bots managed to work together to move the hoop in one direction.

The obvious next step: set up an obstacle course and put the toys to the test.

At one point, despite opposition from half of the pack, the wee critters were able to squeeze the paddock through a small aperture, “eerily resembling a bacterium invading a cell,” as described by Phys.org.

With enough man (er, cyborg) power, they can even roll their enclosure around a curved surface.

The ultimate aim of this study, according to the researchers, is to better understand microbial biology—i.e. how microbes execute complex maneuvers, like navigating and invading cells.

There is also talk of designing micro-robots capable of moving around in biological systems.

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Source: https://www.geek.com/science/battery-of-bots-work-together-to-move-objects-1741020/?source=science