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Intelligence of the swarm: robots build complex structures

Bio-inspired climbing robots using specialized bricks show how specified structures can be collectively built.
Bio-inspired climbing robots using specialized bricks show how specified structures can be collectively built.Eliza Grinnell/Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science

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Compared with human-like robots that are being built to comprehend emotion, perform complex tasks, and outsmart people on quiz shows, a trio of bug-like machines designed by Harvard University engineers with a handful of crude sensory abilities hardly seems to merit the word “intelligence.” But this seemingly rag-tag team of robots is one example of a powerful alternate approach to tackling complex problems.

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