How Kilobots Work

Author's Note

Ants swarm to an object several times their size and pick it up effortlessly (or it seems that way). But there's an entire layer of communication we're missing if we don't look closely. If we want intelligent machines with similar capabilities, we have to take some tips from nature. What surprised me the most when writing about Kilobots wasn't the robots themselves, but the level of detail required to make programs and algorithms work. Kilobots only skim the surface when it comes to the fascinating ideas researchers are testing. These tiny, mechanical armies serve as a reminder of how neat and complex the world is, and how trying to understand it is half the fun.

Related Articles


  • K-Team Mobile Robotics. "Kilobot." (March10, 2012)
  • Rubenstein, Michael. "How Kilobots Work." Personal interview. March 13, 2012.
  • Rubenstein, Michael, et al. "Kilobot: A Low Cost Scalable Robot System for Collective Behaviors." Technical Report. 2011. (March 10, 2012).
  • Rutter, Michael Patrick. "Kilobots Are Leaving the Nest!" Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Nov. 21, 2011. (March 10, 2012).