Mission Impossible, robot style [video]

Posted by Kate Taylor

A group of robots dubbed a Swarmanoid has won the video award from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) for its Mission Impossible-style demonstration of, um, taking a book from a shelf.

"The goal of the competition is to show the world how much fun AI is by documenting exciting artificial intelligence advances in research, education, and application," explain the organizers.

The winning video follows a varied group of flying 'eye-bots', wheeled 'foot-bots' and gripping 'hand-bots', working as a team. At the start of the mission, they know nothing at all about their environment. They communicate via infrared and rather pretty flashing LEDs.

After the eye-bots have found the target book they attach themselves magnetically to the ceiling, and signal to the foot-bots. These bring over a hand-bot, which fires a grappling hook at the ceiling and hauls itself up to the right shelf where it grabs the book before slowly climbing down.

The creators of the Swarmanoid - a research group from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, funded by the European Commission - say there is a serious point to the demonstration. Similar robots could be used in everything from search-and-rescue operations to space exploration, they say.

Check out the video, below.