Kilobots Work Together
Kilobots Work Together
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Kilobot swarm building robot is an ideal candidate for experiments in how swarms can do useful things. We have three new videos showing how cooperation pays off even if there is no master controller.

Kilobots are tiny and very simple robots designed by a research group at Harvard. Each Kilobot is tiny and very cheap to build:


  • Small, only 33mm of diameter
  • Fine motor controlling (255 different power levels)
  • The Kilobot can communicate with neighbors up to 7 cm.
  • Neighbor-to-neighbor distance sensing
  • Ambient light sensing
  • RGB led

The latest videos from the research group show the Kilobots in action carrying out basic swarm algorithms.

As you watch the videos below you need to keep in mind that each Kilobot is running the same program. The behavior that emerges does so from very simple swarm intelligence.

In the first video we see a large Kilobot swarm synchronize its flashing using the firefly algorithm. This makes the robots adjust their internal clocks when they see a neighbor flash. As you watch the video you can see a strange organizational wave move across the group until finally they flash in time:



Slightly less impressive, but still interesting to watch, is a video of a swarm of Kilobots moving toward the light, i.e. phototaxis:



The final video is of swarms of Kilobots moving together so as to transport a large object. You have probably seen ants co-operating in the same way to move much larger objects. Again you need to remember that the Kilobots are all running the same program. In this case the movements of the individual Kilobot is restrained by the large shape being moved, but their combined average movement is the movement of the large shape.



The art of swarm intelligence is in finding simple rules that each member of the swarm can follow to produce collective behavior that seems to be more than just the simple rule.

More Information

The Kilobot Project

Related Articles


To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, install the I Programmer Toolbar, subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Linkedin,  or sign up for our weekly newsletter.


blog comments powered by Disqus



No More Tweet Counts

If you are a member of the Twitterati, last Friday was a sad day. Twitter turned off the Tweet counter feature and does not intend to restore it.

Pivot Podcast Concludes - What Will Be Revealed?

The eighth episode of GE's Pivot Podcast has just been released. Will Sam and Ethan find the answers they need to launch DroneAble, which has grown in concept from an app to a start up company?

More News




Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 January 2013 )

RSS feed of news items only
I Programmer News
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.