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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Swarming Structures

  • On April 8, 2008


I have an ongoing interest in swarming structures that goes back to my Angels, Flying Reconfigurable Architecture work which I did at the Bartlett a couple of years ago. Going from concept to real truely swarming LTA vehicles is another story but these developments in mobile robotics are interesting glimpses at a possible world made up of ecologies of architectural fragments, whether at a nano or larger scale that. Above is a team of “swarm-bots” negotiating a terrain outside a laboratory in Brussels, Belgium.


Each Swarm-bot is 19 centimetres high, has a rotating turret, a claw-like gripper and moves using a combination of caterpillar tracks and wheels. Each also has a basic computer and is loaded with the same software.


The simple rules laid out in this software allow the robots to perform complex actions as a group. A swarm of ants uses a similar strategy to tackle difficult jobs like carrying a large object. See Film


A red color ring tells others, “Grab me;” blue means “stay away.” Scientists study ant colonies, bird flocks, mammal herds, and fish schools to understand the simple genius of such animal swarms.


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