Inspired by the way termites repetitively build complex mounds, a team of computer scientists from Harvard University has developed an autonomous robot that that can construct small architectural structures.
The robots are able to follow a set of predetermined rules to construct specific structures, including small-scale skyscrapers and pyramids.
Working without a design plan and without communicating with each other, the robots use sensors to tell when they're alongside another robot or a brick and to adjust what they are doing accordingly.
Each one has hooked wheels, called ‘whegs’, and a front loader that can pick up and hold 21.5 square-centimetre foam bricks.
They can maneuver forwards and backwards, and climb up and down one step at a time.
For their first public showcase, the Harvard researchers programmed the robots to build a 10-brick structure. See the video of what they created here.
Although starting off small and slow, the scientists envision autonomous robots could one day be used to build structures in hazardous or hostile environments such as earthquake areas, war zones, under the sea or on uninhabited planets.
Courtesy Science Magazine