The swarm-bots are coming! The swarm-bots are coming! Here's an article about the creation of Roderich Groß, Marco Dorigo and colleagues: robots that can assemble themselves into a bigger entity to perform a certain task.
With a camera and eight colored LEDs, the s-bots can “communicate” with each other on their status. For example, blue lights mean that an s-bot is not connected, while a red light signifies that the s-bot has gripped another s-bot (or a passive object) and tells other s-bots to approach and latch on. A mobility system of tracks and wheels, or “treels,” enables the s-bots to navigate on rough terrain, and gives them good steering abilities.
“Swarm-bot combines the advantages of multi-robot and modular robot systems,” said Groß of the robot’s intelligence. “The component modules of swarm-bot, the s-bots, are fully autonomous and mobile, and they choose whether to assemble into a bigger entity to perform a task.”