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Robots in Depth: Michael Rubenstein on the challenge of building 1,024 Kilobots

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30 October 2015



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Robots in Depth is a new video series featuring interviews with researchers, entrepreneurs, VC investors, and policy makers in robotics, hosted by Per Sjöborg. In this interview, Michael Rubenstein describes how he has taken his robotics research from theory into practice by building cheap and small robots — 1024 of them to be exact.

Michael first talks about his PhD research in algorithms for modular self-reconfigurable robots at the University of Southern California, supervised by Wei-Min Shen.

He then shares some of the challenges involved in building 1,024 robots, and how what you learn from actually building robots is different from what you learn from simulating them. This project helped him fine-tune the algorithms from his earlier research.

By working on Kilobot, Michael also learned how to make inexpensive robots that fit the educational market well, and has created robots that can be programmed by school children at robotics summer camps.

The Kilobot work was done in the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group at Harvard University. Michael is now faculty at Northwestern University.

You can support Robots in Depth on Patreon. Check out all the Robots in Depth videos here.


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Per Sjöborg is an all around robot geek and has been that for as long as he can remember.
Per Sjöborg is an all around robot geek and has been that for as long as he can remember.

Robots in Depth is a new video series featuring interviews with researchers, entrepreneurs, VC investors, and policy makers in robotics, hosted by Per Sjöborg.
Robots in Depth is a new video series featuring interviews with researchers, entrepreneurs, VC investors, and policy makers in robotics, hosted by Per Sjöborg.





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