Orb Swarm

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Two orbs from Orb Swarm at the Maker Faire 2008.

Orb Swarm (also known simply as SWARM) is a kinetic art work consisting of six semi-autonomous spherical robots.[1] It was created in 2007 by a group of engineers and artists including Michael Prados, Jon Foote, Lee Sonko, and many others.[2] Orb Swarm was inspired by previous work in robotics and kinetic art, and seeks to emulate swarm behavior in nature and human dancing.[3] Nearly all of the hardware and software in the project is open source, and others are encouraged to build upon the project's efforts.[4]


Each orb is driven by two motors, one for drive and one for steering.[5] The shell is made of welded, water jet cut aluminum, and it moves by pushing against the weight of the batteries inside.[6] For guidance and control, there is a GPS module, an IMU, dead reckoning, and a computer running Linux.

Each orb has several banks of full color LEDs and a sound system that are controlled programmatically.


Orb Swarm first appeared at Burning Man in 2007. Other performances have included Maker Faire,[7] Coachella,[8] the California Academy of Sciences Nightlife, Robogames, and the Techkriti festival in Kanpur, India.[9]


  1. ^ What is SWARM?
  2. ^ "Swarm Hits the Sand". TV Free Burning Man. Current TV. September 22, 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  3. ^ Hart, Richard (August 19, 2007). "Bay Area Group Building Dancing Robot". ABC7 Local News. KGO-TV. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  4. ^ http://wiki.orbswarm.com/index.php?title=License Swarm License
  5. ^ "Burning Man Swarm". TV Free Burning Man. Current TV. August 14, 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  6. ^ Category:Motion System OrbSWARM
  7. ^ Schwartz, John (May 13, 2008). "This, From That". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  8. ^ Bullock, Dave (April 26, 2008). "Coachella: Aphex Twin, Pendulum, Aesop Rock, Les Savy Fav and More". Wired News. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  9. ^ Swarm in the Media

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