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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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The Swarmbots Have Arrived

October 4, 2013, 11:00 AM
Shutterstock_90604807

What's the Latest Development?

MIT scientist John Romanishin has done what some said couldn't be done: He has created a mini-cube robot that has no external moving parts yet can move, climb, leap, and -- most importantly -- work together with its fellows to create larger shapes. The motion comes from an internal flywheel that can go as fast as 20,000 revolutions per minute and delivers angular momentum when stopped. Magnets on the cube's edge and faces allow it to connect to other cubes. Romanishin and his colleagues will discuss the invention at next month's IEEE/RSJ conference on intelligent robots and systems.

What's the Big Idea?

In a video, MIT robotics professor Daniela Rus says that unlike fixed-architecture robots -- which are usually meant to perform a single task -- the cubes can be assembled and reassembled into different shapes that can perform a variety of tasks. Currently they receive commands from a computer via a radio, but eventually the team plans to build algorithms into the cubes themselves so that, according to post-doc Kyle Gilpin, a swarm of cubes can figure out on their own the best way to complete a task given to them. This could allow such swarms to temporarily repair large structures during an emergency, or enter dangerous environments to identify problems and help provide solutions.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at KurzweilAI

 

The Swarmbots Have Arrived

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