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A swarm of real robots (kilobots) from the Hauert Lab at the Bristol Robotics Lab
A robot swarm. Credit: Jerry Wright

You’ve probably read about robot swarms in fiction, or seen them on TV/films.
But have you thought about how we could use them for real-world applications?

Swarm Escape! is a swarm robotics escape room created by researchers from the Hauert Lab at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. With its unique set of robotics puzzles specially designed at the lab with the support of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the University of Bristol’s Public Engagement Team, Swarm Escape! explores citizens’ attitudes towards swarm robotics and its future applications.

In swarm robotics, many robots collaborate to perform a collective task, just like ants, bees, fish or us, humans. Swarm robotics has so far been constrained to labs, but the technology is now ripe to move beyond them. There is a lot of potential for robot swarms in areas such as warehouse logistics, infrastructure monitoring, exploration, or firefighting. Now is the perfect time for swarm robotics researchers to collaborate with society to define the role of robot swarms in our future city – together.

Several surveys, like the Royal Society’s report and the Special Eurobarometer 460, have stressed the importance of increasing knowledge and awareness of robotics, artificial intelligence and their possible applications. The escape room experience will open up conversations about robot swarms, and how to use/not to use them in our future city.

Swarm robotics researchers are listening. Where would you use a robot swarm?

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