Ideas

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: A robot hivemind

MNS robots
AP

What is it? A robot hive

Innovators: Scientists at the Free University of Brussels and other European institutions

What were they thinking? Robots have always been autonomous types with full of control of their own “nervous systems” — the networks of computer processors, cameras, and other gizmos that make them go. But a group of European scientists set out to create a set of round robots with wheels that could latch onto each other and merge their nervous systems, forming a single, entirely new robot.

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Did it work? Last week, the scientists reported success in the journal Nature Communications, ushering in a new era of robot morphology. Helmed by a single member of the group, dubbed the “brain unit,” the bot hive can create a variety of shapes and self-heal by removing and replacing malfunctioning parts. Just like the Terminator. This should work out well.