Nithin Mathews, Anders Lyhne Christensen, Rehan O’Grady, and Marco Dorigo are researchers from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto Universitario de Lisboa and they are leading us down the primrose path towards human extinction. More precisely, they’re using a method called specially-targetted communication. The flying robot “selects” ground robots and communicates with them by changing LED colors. Once the airborne robot sends the right signals to the ground robots, they can work together to move over and around obstacles that the ground robots cannot see.
Most important is that fact that no real “wireless” communication is necessary here, unless you count the LEDs as a form of electromagnetic signaling. Instead, the flying robots can tell the ground robots to do what they do best – self-assemble – and then guide them where they need to go.
You really have to see the video to understand it, but it’s some seriously wild robot interaction. The method requires no GPS, no maps, and no outside control. The flying robots just need to know what the environment looks like and the ground robots just have to follow orders. It’s amazing stuff.