Autonomous SWARM at large

SWARM has been showing up at a number of places. Until now, the mysterious spheres have been under human control. However, the SWARM has taken the first steps to autonomous control. The SWARM is a kinetic art project consisting of several large self-propelled metallic spheres that interact with each other and their environment. Each orb in the swarm is fitted out with a processor, GPS, accelerometers, and Zigbee wireless communications. The entire project is open source. Slated to appear at the 2008 Burning Man festival, the orbs will use their GPS to wander within a specified area, keeping themselves “in bounds”.

Here’s the plot of one orb exploring a soccer field. Burning Man attendees will most likely see the whole SWARM in full autonomous operation.


  1. Doug says:

    My toes!

  2. mesoiam says:

    They should let them loose in Boston, People will go insane.

  3. DreamsOfSteel says:

    Remember kids, this is the first step to SkyNet…

  4. Clay says:

    This touches on my idea of taking the brain out of a Roomba and putting it on a lawn mower…. I hate to mow.

  5. aonomus says:

    Why does this remind me of the XKCD comic:

  6. M4CGYV3R says:
    “It has no collision detection. At Burning Man if a Hippy walks in front of it, it’s going to run over the Hippy.”

    Also neat how it’s not Autonomous per-se, but it runs off of a ‘mothernode’ as in true swarm intelligence.

  7. amk says:

    they should totally weaponize these things, speed em up a bit, build 100 or so of em, program and deploy them for crowd control. oh yeah.

  8. jeicrash says:

    If I see one I’ll pick it up, unplug power take home and have fun with parts. Just kidding. Very neat.

  9. MaX-MoD says:

    love it!
    Just sharpen the parts of the frame and you’ve got a killbot :)

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