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 multi-agent systems, where large numbers of simple agents cooperate to produce complex and robust global behavior. We develop bio-inspired robots and algorithms for collective intelligence, drawing inspiration from social insects and multicellular organization. We also model self-organization in biology, specifically how cells and insects cooperate to achieve complex tasks. Our work combines computer science, robotics, and 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 program 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

Feb 2019: Melinda Malley and her robots feature on Science IRL!

Dec 2018: The Embedded EthiCS Website is ONLINE! EthiCS is a joint effort between the CS and Philosophy departments to embed modules across the CS curriculum that teach students how to reason, communicate, and design with the ethical and social implications of their work. Radhika is a member of the EthiCS team. 

Underbug Book Cover

Sept 2018: Lisa Margonelli's book, Underbug: An obsessive tale of termites and technology, is finally published! With a couple of gripping chapters about our lab's Namibia termite studies, our Termes robots, and our funny-intense engineers.(Wired Article)

Fall 2018: Congrats to Florian Berlinger whose ICRA 2018 paper on a DEA-based underwater robot was a finalist for Best Conference Paper and Best Student Paper Awards! Congrats also to Julia Ebert for her AAMAS 2018 paper on collective perception and decision-making. Congrats also to both Julia and Florian for receiving a Bok Center Teaching Fellow certificate of excellence for their great work as TFs for CS189 (Intro to Autonomous Robotics). Also welcome to new lab members, Lucie Houel, Bahar Haghighat and Helen McCreery!

April 2018: Our Robots are Everywhere! Root at TED and Kilobots-on-a-Bus! Root Robot are now shipping, you can Buy Root on Amazon! See the Root Facebook page for some wonderful programming ideas, like Root dance choreography and Root draw-my-name.

Root robot at TED conference (April 2018)

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