Video Highlights

Visit our Youtube channel for videos on the latest robots and projects from our lab.

Lab Info

Our lab is part of the Computer Science Department, within the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard. We are a core lab member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, and Prof. Nagpal co-leads the Bio-inspired Robotics Platform. We do research that spans computer science, robotics, and biology in many different ways. Our lab is committed to having a diverse, creative, interdisciplinary, team-oriented, and fun environment.

How to get to our Lab:
Address: 33 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Our main group space and lab is in the Maxwell Dworkin Building on the 2nd floor (MD 238 and MD236). (google map) 

Outreach and Lab Tours: We enjoy doing lab tours for groups aiming at broadening participation in robotics and STEM with underrepresented groups. Just contact Radhika. SEAS also offers great lab tours and activities covering all engineering (email 

Joining our lab: [We have closed our postdoctoral positions for Spring 2018] At the moment we are not taking new postdocs or graduate students. However many of our alumni are faculty and have related (and cool!) research programs. If you are interested in research positions, do check out their labs as well (e.g. Profs. Kirstin Petersen (Cornell), Mike Rubenstein (Northwestern), Nils Napp (SUNY)). 

Kilobots image on the UCSF Bus


Biological systems, from cells to social insects, get tremendous mileage from the cooperation of vast numbers of cheap, unreliable, and limited individuals. What would it take to create our own artificial collectives of the scale and complexity that nature achieves?

Our group is interested in self-organizing systems, where large numbers of simple agents cooperate to produce complex and robust global behavior. We design and build novel bio-inspired robots and algorithms for collective intelligence, drawing inspiration from social insects and cells and body-brain-colony interactions. We also study self-organization in nature, specifically how social insects and cells cooperate to achieve complex tasks and what organizational principles translate accross scales. Our work combines AI, robotics (CS, EE & ME), and field biology.

A common theme in all of our work is understanding the relationship between local and global behavior: how does robust collective behavior arise from many locally interacting agents, and how can we engineer the local interactions of simple agents to achieve the global behaviors we want.

Fall SSR Retreat 2018Fall SSR Retreat, 2017

SSR Summer Kayak TripSummer Kayaking, 2018

Research and Lab Highlights

July, 2019: See kilobots and other Wyss projects at the Biofuturism Exhibit @ Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum NY! The exhibit runs July 12- March 2020.

June 20, 2019: Root Robotics has been acquired by iRobot! We are excited for the next steps of of the Root Robot in its educational mission.  (Harvard Gazette, TechCrunch, TheRobotReport)

Root robot class pack

May 2019: Alumni Chih-Han Yu (Ph.D. 2010) is profiled on the SEAS website. Fortune Magazine recently named Chih-Han's company Appier as one of the top 50 AI companies in the world.

April 2019: Embedded EthiCS @ Harvard is one of the winners of the Mozilla Responsible Computer Science Challenge Grant! (gazette article)

Spring 2019 Lab News: Melinda Malley and her robots are featured on Science IRL! Congrats to Daniel Calovi and Nic Carey on their termites paper published in Phil Trans of the Royal Society B, to Lucie Houel for her EPFL master's thesis, Katherine Binney for her Harvard senior thesis and graduation, and to Daniel Calovi for his new position at the Couzin lab at Max-Planck Institute this summer!

April 2019: Termes IRL! Congrats to Justin Werfel and Nathan Melenbrink of the DEL Lab @ Wyss for their new collective construction for environment work: ROMU robots for soil erosion prevention. 

For more about our Lab's accomplishments, see our Press page.

Root robot at TED conference (April 2018)