A group of terrorists has stormed into an office building and taken an unknown number of people hostage. They have blocked the entrances and covered the windows. No one outside can see how many they are, what weapons they carry or where they are holding their hostages. But suddenly a SWAT team bursts into the room and captures the assailants before they can even grab their weapons. How did the commandos get the information they needed to move so confidently and decisively?
The answer is a team of small, coordinated robots. They infiltrated the building through the ventilation system and methodically moved throughout the ducts. Some were equipped with microphones to monitor conversations, others with small video cameras, still others with sensors that sniffed the air for chemical or biological agents. Working together, they radioed this real-time information back to the authorities.
This article was originally published with the title An Army of Small Robots.