These collaborative robots
remind us a lot of NASA's SuperBot
, only with a clear mission to search and rescue (and minus the crazy acrobatics). These modular bots, currently being developed in Germany, work both independently and as a group and are designed for use in applications such as military reconnaissance, surveillance, and even space exploration. When detached the individual bots can work separately to cover large areas over a shorter period of time. The units come together and join by way of a novel conical docking mechanism, allowing them to form a single, more complex robot. Each module is outfitted with a pair of rugged treads, various onboard sensors, a touch sensor, GPS module, and gyroscope to help then navigate and identify their surroundings. At this stage, the robots are pre-programmed, but a future goal is to make them autonomous and to increase the number of collaborative units working as one. The bots have yet to be used in real-world scenarios, however we'd hope that if one fell into a crevice, another one would come to its rescue. Or whatever.