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Two soccer teammates took the field on a recent Saturday afternoon: one made shot after shot while the other played goalie.
The shooter, wearing a distinctive uniform dotted with colorful spots, had just taken a powerful kick when something went wrong. The call went out to stop practice — and to find a hot glue gun.
“Something is hanging off,’’ Svilen Kanev, a Harvard University sophomore and member of Robotic Futbol Club Cambridge, said as fellow students picked up the cylindrical black robot to administer first aid.
When most people think about robotics and artificial intelligence what comes to mind are individual robots — whether it is one that vacuums the floor, a rover that explores Mars, or the computer that beats a human chess champion.
But at the cutting edge of robotics, many researchers are focused on multiple-robot systems in which it is not the individual that matters, but the group. These robots are being designed to work together and react to each other. Researchers envision that these could one day perform tasks dangerous or menial or that machines in combination might do better than humans — whether it is search and rescue or construction of a building.
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