Biological systems, from multicellular organisms to
social insects ("superorganisms"), get tremendous mileage from the
cooperation of vast numbers of cheap, unreliable, and limited
individuals. As we build artificial systems with similar
characteristics --- robot swarms, modular robots, sensor networks,
programmable materials --- can we achieve the kind of complexity and
reliability that nature achieves?
Our group is interested in self-organizing multi-agent systems, where
large numbers of simple agents cooperate to produce complex and robust
global behavior. We study bio-inspired algorithms and designs for
collective intelligence in robotics and networks, drawing inspiration
mainly from multicellular biology and social insects. We also
investigate models of self-organization in biology, specifically how
cells and insects cooperate to achieve complex tasks. Our work
combines CS, robotics, and biology.
A common theme in all of our work is understanding the relationship between local
and global behavior: how does robust collective behavior arise
from many locally interacting agents, and how can we program the local
interations of simple agents to achieve the global behaviors we
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS)
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
cells ants bees fish 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 hello world
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 agents robots networks
We work on three main areas:
- Bio-inspired Multi-agent Models and
artificial multi-agent models inspired by
self-organising and self-repairing behavior in
biology. We are especially interested in
global-to-local compilation and theory,
i.e. how user-specified global goals can be translated
into local agent interactions and how one can reason
about the correctness and complexity of agent
rules. Our goal is to show how biological design
principles can be formally captured, generalized to
new tasks, and theoretically analyzed.
- Bio-inspired Multi-agent Robotic Systems
We study bio-inspired approaches
for designing and programming robotic systems that rely on
large numbers of relatively cheap and simple agents,
e.g. reconfigurable modular robots, robot swarms (TERMES,
Kilobots, Robobees) and sensor networks. We are especially
interested in the design and analysis of algorithms for
decentralized coordination, global-to-local programming, and
the physical design of autonomous robot collectives.
- Biological Multi-agent Systems
We develop mathematical and
computational models of individual behavior to
investigate how system-level properties emerge in
collective systems. We work closely with experimental
biologists. Our previous work focused on epithelial
tissues in fruit fly development, and the relationship
between local cell programs and global tissue-level
outcomes. Our current work focuses on how social
insects, such as mound-building termites, coordinate
to achieve complex tasks.
Our lab is part of the Computer Science Area,
within the School of Engineering and
Applied Sciences at Harvard. We are part of the Artificial
Intelligence research group (AIRG) and the SEAS Robotics Group. Our
lab is a core member of the Wyss
Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, where
we co-lead the Bio-inspired Robotics Platform. We are also affiliated
with the Systems Biology PhD
program at Harvard. We are located on the 2nd floor of the
Maxwell-Dworkin Building, at 33 Oxford Street, Cambridge.
Join us: Here's information on applying to our group
Channel: See Videos of our work
Kilobotics: Buy, Make and Program Your Own
Lab News, Spring 2015
Congrats to Mike Rubenstein who will
be starting his new lab as Assistant Professor at Northwestern!
Congrats also to Ben Green who won an NSF Graduate Fellowship
this year. Check out our ICRA
papers this year, and Radhika's ICRA Keynote Talk.
Nature's 10 and Science 10, Dec 2014
Radhika was chosen for
Nature's 10 (Ten people who mattered this year) (Dec 18 issue).
And our work on cooperative swarms was chosen for
Science's top 10 breakthroughs of the year (Dec 19 issue), with
article (see 55secs in). Congrats to our research team and alums!
Science, Aug 2014
(1024-robot swarm) is in this month's issue of Science magazine,
demonstrating large-scale collective self-assembly through
local interactions and without human intervention. See a Movie of our work; also some
Geographic, Science News,
Wyss Institute Press Release
Science, Feb 2014
Our paper on the termite-inspired
collective construction robots is on the cover of Science, along
with a perspective
by Prof. Korb. Some news articles on our work (Boston
News). See a Movie of our
Mike Rubenstein's Aerobot
won first and second places in the AFRON "Ultra
Affordable Educational Robot Project" design challenges.
Aerobot was designed to cost only $10, be easily manufactured, and can
be programmed with the graphical language minibloq. Aerobot was
featured in a STEM summer camp,
i2camp. Check out our ICRA 2015 paper!