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Communications of the ACM


Swarm Robotics Moves Forward

ants trying to form a bridge

Credit: Getty Images

Intelligent patterns and behaviors appear in many living systems—and the collective behavior of groups such as birds or insects frequently display greater intelligence than any given creature. What one ant, bee, or bird cannot tackle alone, the group can, and often does, accomplish.

This shared intelligence has not gone unnoticed by robotics researchers. As they look for ways to build smarter mechanical objects that can creep, run, swim, and fly, they are turning to nature for inspiration and direction. Drawing on areas as diverse as biology, psychology, physics, materials science, and aerodynamics, they are exploring ways to create new and smarter robotic systems, including microbots that could someday venture into the human body.


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