Inspired by the incredible work ethic of termites, scientists from Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have been working for the past four years to build autonomous construction robots.

The end result is something they’ve dubbed Termes, a collection of autonomous robots capable of carrying bricks, building stairs and then climbing them to construct complex three-dimensional structures like castles, pyramids and towers. Much like real termites, the robots work independently of each other and don’t follow instructions from a leader during construction – only taking initial orders of what to build from a human.

The project is neat enough on its own but the team believes the robots could ultimately be scaled up and used to build things in regions where it is difficult for humans to work – like a levee during a flood or even a structure in space.

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