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CU-Boulder Team Develops Robotic ‘Swarm Wall’

Using innovative robotics technology, a new dynamic media composition was developed which will be demonstrated at a summer exhibition at the University of Colorado Boulder Art Museum.

Nikolaus Correll of the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science

The large-scale interactive piece is dubbed ‘Swarm Wall,’ and displays varying features of light, color, and sound, activated by a distributed form of artificial intelligence.

Upon movement identification, around 70 intelligent ‘nodes’ present behind the piece communicate with each another to create a swarming effect. The nodes represent swarm behavior as each node operates individually on its own plan, based on its immediate neighbors’ actions.

The new art and technology research group developed the first product which is a 42-by-12-foot installation. Faculty members Nikolaus Correll of the computer science department and Michael Theodore of the College of Music launched this group.

The wall display patterns of Swarm Wall were fabricated by Ken Sugawara of Tohuku Gakuin University in Japan.

An array of electronic panels, small custom circuit boards, items similar to ping pong balls and several other components that form a part of robotic devices were displayed at the lab last week.

Part of preparation for Swarm Wall installation includes assembly of circuit boards linked with bright orange cables that were mounted on the lab’s partition. Small mechanical arms or flippers oscillated while testing the “brains” behind the Swarm Wall. The movement was synchronized at times, while a ripple effect was created in response to stimuli during other times.


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