All very good but...
... did anyone else look at the bots and immediately think they resemble Minions off Despicable Me?
Edit: just a bit of yellow and they'd be perfect.
Harvard University computer scientists have built a 1,000-strong robot army that can form itself into shapes with little human input. KIlobots And I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords (click to enlarge) The machines, dubbed kilobots because there are 1,024 of them, each contain an Atmel micrcontroller, two …
While you are essentially correct in that these could have been modelled in software, and doubtless the initial basic programming was, it is only through creating the physical devices and letting them roam that all of the foibles, annoyances and damn stupid gotchas really come out. This real learning is then fed back into the software model which can be refined and then (typically) pushed out to the physical devices for the next tests. Upgrading the software on a few devices is usually annoying, 1k of them very much so.
I suspect that these have already had numerous iterations in software before making it to a physical prototype. As for updating them, I would also suspect that they have a common wireless interface to blitz the entire lot at once. This is in a confined, controlled area. Security would not be as prevalent as usability at this point. Of course that just makes it easier for the nefarious megalomaniac to take control of his robot army.
Even with a common wireless interface, successfully updating all of them and verifying that the updates have all been applied to each of them isn't going to be a fun task. Having worked with mass update devices (admittedly the last production devices was a rather badly designed IR update process, the next gen were wireless or wired), there are always some devices that just fail to update and identifying and tracking down these devices makes for a tedious day.
Those motors are used in a lot of older phones, Samsung mainly.
The disk ones are nice as they are somewhat robust and controllable, as well as no external moving parts to snag or break.
A good source is phone repair shops as the screen ribbon cable with attached motor is usually replaced as a unit, also old phones from charity shops sometimes have them.
....I'm feeling very depressed.
I wonder what sort of real people personalities (TM) would be appropriate for the botling hordes? Perhaps suitable neuro-patterns could be harvested from London commuters, or Glasto-goers..?
Beer, partly because it's Friday, but mostly because
a: if all goes according to plan, things like this will be doing my housework in a few years time;
b: if the plan goes horribly awry and the botlings take over, I'll need a feckin' beer.
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