For Star Trek fans who have grown up seeing fictional nanites solving a variety of problems in the human body and beyond, this has to be a very exciting month. Researchers from the Sheffield Centre for Robotics programmed a group of 40 small robots which could organize themselves into a group and work together to solve simple tasks. The robots here are fairly simple – they can move in any direction and are a few inches in diameter. Even their intelligence is rudimentary.
What is fascinating however is to watch how a simple program can drive them to perform tasks like self-organizing or even move an object.
The point here is with simple intelligence, each of these robots cannot do that much. Together however they can achieve pretty large feats. A good example of something similar in nature is how incredible ant colonies are working in unison while an individual ant can only accomplish so much.
Nanobots are in the real-world what nanites are in the world of science-fiction. The amazing thing the video above shows us is you can accomplish much in unison – even if the individual unit isn’t that advanced. In theory this paves the way to program cells with limited intelligence to attack disease or even deliver drugs based on some predetermined parameters.
The StarTac cellphone was a copy of the original Star Trek communicator, the iPad and other tablets many of my readers use are a copy of tablets seen in Star Trek NGN. Will nanobots or nanites which help heal living-beings be one of the latest technologies predicted by Star Trek? It is certainly early to make such a prediction but it is exciting to entertain the future potential of semi-smart bots performing very intelligent tasks.