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Fall 2022 GRASP on Robotics: Radhika Nagpal, Princeton University, “Towards Collective Artificial Intelligence”

November 11 @ 10:30 am - 11:45 am

This is a hybrid event with in-person attendance in Wu and Chen and virtual attendance via Zoom.


In nature, groups of thousands of individuals cooperate to create complex structure purely through local interactions — from cells that form complex organisms, to social insects like termites and ants that build nests and self-assemble bridges, to the complex and mesmerizing motion of fish schools and bird flocks. What makes these systems so fascinating to scientists and engineers alike, is that even though each individual has limited ability, as a collective they achieve tremendous complexity. What would it take to create our own artificial collectives of the scale and complexity that nature achieves? In this talk I will discuss several ongoing projects that use inspiration from biological self-assembly to create robotic systems: The Kilobot swarm inspired by cells, the Termes and EcitonR robots inspired by the 3D assembly of termites and army ants, and the BlueSwarm project inspired by fish schools. There are many challenges for both building and programming robot swarms, and we use these systems to explore decentralized algorithms, embodied intelligence, and methods for synthesizing complex global behavior. Our theme is the same: can we create simple robots that cooperate to achieve collective complexity?


Radhika Nagpal

Radhika Nagpal

Radhika Nagpal is the Augustine Professor of Robotics at Princeton University, joint between the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, where she leads the Self-organizing Swarms & Robotics Lab (SSR).  Nagpal is a leading researcher in swarm robotics and self-organized collective intelligence. Projects from her lab include bio-inspired multi-robot systems such as the Kilobot thousand-robot swarm (Science 2014) and the Blueswarm underwater robots (Science Robotics 2021), as well as models of biological collective intelligence (Nature Comms. 2022). In 2017 Nagpal co-founded ROOT Robotics, an educational robotics company aimed at democratizing AI and robotics through early education, recently acquired by iRobot. Nagpal is also known for her Scientific American blog article (“The Awesomest 7 Year Postdoc”, 2013) and received the Anita Borg Early Career Award (2010) and McDonald Mentoring Award (2015). Nagpal is an ACM Fellow and AAAI fellow (2020), and was an invited TED speaker in 2017. Nagpal was named by Nature magazine as one of the top ten influential scientists and engineers of the year (Nature10 award, Dec 2014).


November 11
10:30 am - 11:45 am
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Wu and Chen Auditorium
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
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