TRANSFORMERS: Self-healing robots swarm to create a bigger machine

Autonomous robots. Image: Marco Dorigo and Nithin Mathews

European researchers have created robots which can work alone or merge together to form a new form of machine.

The individual robots retain full motion control regardless of how they are grouped, so the larger bodies function with a single controller.

They can also self-heal by removing or replacing malfunctioning parts, even if the that sick part is the brain unit.

So far, the researchers can control up to 10 units together but they think this should be easy to scale up.

The study authors at the Universite Libre de Brussels in Belgium hope this kind of design can lead to robots that can adapt their size and shape to changing tasks.

Here are the robots at work:

These self-reconfiguring modular robots are reported in the journal Nature Communications.

Here they are again, splitting and making different forms:

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