Self-assembling robots could be the future of snack delivery

Last week, we introduced you to a robot that had learned the dance moves to PSY’s infuriatingly catchy hit single. While CHARLI was shaking its hips Gangnam Style, four researchers were showing off self-assembling multi-robot systems at the Intelligent Robots and Systems 2012 conference.

The project is titled "Spatially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly," and it allows flying drone robots to communicate with a group of ground-based swarm robots. This significantly increases the swarm bots' sensing range to give them a better idea of which morphology—or formation of robots—would be appropriate for a given environment.

Incredibly, the flying robots communicate with their grounded companions through a series of LED light displays, as Gizmodo points out. I would explain it further, but it might be best just to watch it in action yourself:

Although the presentation demonstrates only a few of the seemingly endless possibilities, the potential of robotic systems that can separate and reassemble into complicated morphologies at will to complete a wide array of tasks is very exciting.

Er, provided you're not living in fear of an eventual robot uprising, anyway.

That said, it is fairly obvious that the first thing any sane person would do with an intelligent robot army is direct the machines to complete menial household chores that you just can’t be bothered to get out of bed to do yourself. Or maybe that’s just me.

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