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Watch the terrifying beauty of a robot swarm in action

This is either incredibly cool or, if you’re Elon Musk, completely terrifying. A team of Harvard University scientists has managed to recreate natural swarms using more than a thousand micro robots.

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Each of the Kilobots — there are actually 1024 of them, following computer science definitions — is little more than a completely harmless US$14 device. Put it together with its brethren though and it becomes part of a remarkable, self organising whole.

The way they do it is pretty cool too. Using little blasts of IR light, the bots find the seed and move towards it. Once there are enough of them in place, they start communicating with each other and start positioning themselves in the correct shape.

Their cleverest trick though is probably the fact that a broken or off course robot can tell all the others what’s happening with it, allowing the healthy ones to carry on as normal.

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