Taking cues from bottom-up biological networks like those of social insects, Radhika Nagpal helped design an unprecedented “swarm” of ant-like robots.

Why you should listen

With a swarm of 1,024 robots inspired by the design of ant colonies, Radhika Nagpal and her colleagues at Harvard’s SSR research group have redefined expectations for self-organizing robotic systems. Guided by algorithms, Nagpal’s shockingly simple robots guide themselves into a variety of shapes -- an ability that, brought to scale, might lead to applications like disaster rescue, space exploration and beyond.

In addition to her work with biologically inspired robots, Nagpal helped create ROOT, a simple robot to teach coding to would-be programmers through a simple user interface suitable for students of all ages.

What others say

“[Radhika Nagpla] is applying nature’s approach to decentralized cooperation to engineer new collective systems that meet real-world challenges.” — Robohub

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Are machines going to save or destroy us? It’s a question we’ve been grappling with since we first put 1s and 0s together to create computer code. And it feels like we’re no closer to answering it; machines are growing smarter by the day, and while they’re taking us to places we’ve never imagined, we […]

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