The Wall Street Journal reports:
Harvard University scientists have devised a swarm of 1,024 tiny robots that can work together without any guiding central intelligence.
Like a mechanical flash mob, these robots can assemble themselves into five-pointed stars, letters of the alphabet and other complex designs. The researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Cambridge, Mass., reported their work Thursday in Science.
... Swarm scientists are inspired by nature's team players—social insects like bees, ants and termites; schools of fish; and flocks of birds. These creatures collaborate in vast numbers to perform complicated tasks, even though no single individual is actually in charge.
"The beauty of biological systems is that they are elegantly simple and yet, in large numbers, accomplish the seemingly impossible," said Harvard computer scientist Radhika Nagpal.