Skip to Main Content Menu Search Site

Radhika Nagpal takes the stage at TED2017

Taking cues from bottom-up biological networks like those of social insects, Radhika Nagpal helped design an unprecedented “swarm” of ant-like robots

Wyss Core Faculty member, Radhika Nagpal, Ph.D, spoke at the 2017 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. The TED conference, which features “TED Talks” given by preeminent thinkers and practitioners from around the world, is a week-long event aimed at exploring the most pressing questions of our time and imagining what our shared future might look like. From how we’ll work to how we’ll connect and interact to how we’ll collectively thrive in a world full of change.


Nagpal has spent her career studying collective intelligence systems and looking to theory, biology and robotics to help explain the rules that govern these systems so that we can create our own. In her TED Talk, Nagpal described how she and her research team apply these principles and draw on inspiration from Nature to design collectively intelligent robotic swarms that can be programmed to perform specific tasks.

We can take these rules, combine them and create entirely new collective behaviors of our very own.

Radhika Nagpal

With this swarm of 1,024 biologically inspired robots, Nagpal and her team have redefined the expectations for self-organizing robotic systems. Guided by algorithms, these shockingly simple robots guide themselves into a variety of shapes — an ability that, brought to scale, might lead to applications like disaster rescue, space exploration and beyond.

For more on Nagpal’s TED Talk, please read the TEDBlog post, “Harnessing the intelligence of the collective: Radhika Nagpal speaks at TED2017.”

Close menu