Mapping with Robots
National Geographic has an interesting write-up on Swarms.
Spread out over a large area, a group could function as a powerful mobile sensor net, gathering information about what’s out there. If the group encountered something unexpected, it could adjust and respond quickly, even if the robots in the group weren’t very sophisticated, just as ants are able to come up with various options by trial and error. If one member of the group were to break down, others could take its place. And, most important, control of the group could be decentralized, not dependent on a leader.
It also mentions the Centibots project. Check out the specs for mapping performance here. Given how these systems seem to be parallelizable, perhaps they will be the ones that carry the torch for Moores law.
My only complaint about the NG article is that it doesn’t mention the downside of swarm behavior in people. Swarms of otherwise intelligent people often do very stupid things. See ochocracy.