No matter how you feel about the Michael Bay "Transformers" movies, most kids — and kids at heart — agree it would be awesome to see one of these giant Autobots in real life.
Thanks to robotics researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., the idea of multiple automated machines congregating to achieve a common goal is one step closer to reality.
Meet the kilobots. Yes, like "kill-o-bot," but don't let the name scare you. These little guys are harmless and are made for about $14 each.
They use infrared lights to communicate and vibration to move, but what's really cool is their ability to work together to form basic shapes without direct manipulation.
Researchers input a desired shape, and the kilobots organize themselves into the pattern. But how? Seed bots first move into place to form the core of a shape, sending infrared light blasts to the other kilobots, which one by one move around the outside of the core until they are in place.
While this looks more like an anthill than Optimus Prime and the Autobots, you can imagine how powerful, or just scary, a team of robots working together on their own could be.
Actually, now that we think about it, this may be more "Terminator" than "Transformers." Please let this not be the beginning, Skynet.
- Harvard University