Cluster of Robotic 'Particles' Work Together to Complete Tasks

Researchers from MIT and Columbia University have created simple robots that loosely connect to move around, transport objects, and complete tasks. The researchers call the system "particle robotics" and each individual unit is a "particle." The particles are connected by magnets around their outer edges and each one is only able to expand and contract. When this motion is properly timed, the particles can push and pull one another in coordinated movement. Each unit has a cylindrical base that contains a battery, a small motor, sensors that detect light intensity, a microcontroller, and a communication component that sends out and receives signals.