Thanks to pals at Evil Mad Scientist, I learned about these small self-powered autonomous robots called Kilobits. Brought to you by Harvard University, the little gizmos are run by an Atmel ATmega328.
The little robots move on the little wire pins. There are two vibrating motors, like in a pager. They are arranged in “quadrature” so to speak. One will rotate the robot clockwise, and the other will rotate the robot counterclockwise. If you run both motors, the robot will move forward.
The robots can communicate with an IR (infrared) transceiver. This allows them to exhibit swarm behavior like insects. Check out this video of the Kilobots doing their thing.
Harvard is doing this to study complex self organizing behavior. This may help psychologists and economists understand complex human behavior that just appears, like the open-source movement, the Dabbawala lunch delivery system in India, and how day workers outside of the Home Depot settle on rates and seniority.
While created for research, to their credit, Harvard made this is an open-source project that is just perfect to be picked up by the Maker Movement. NY Maker 2013 starts Saturday, the Atmel team is setting up and the Evil Mad Science people will be at our booth to show off their cool Atmel-powered kits.