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Kilobot is designed to make tests of collective algorithms on hundreds or thousands of robots accessible to robotics researchers. Despite being low-cost, Kilobot maintains abilities similar to other collective robots.

Kilobots are designed to operate without any individual attention by a human operator. This makes controlling a group of them easy, whether there are 10 or 1000 in a group.


These abilities include differential drive locomotion, on-board computation power, ambient light sensing, neighbour-to-neighbour communication and distance sensing.

Kilobot was developed by the prestigious Harvard University and it is distributed by Rahal Technology in the UK.

Introduction to Kilobot

Kilobot is a low-cost, easy-to-use robotic system for advancing development of “swarms” of robots that can be programmed to perform useful functions by coordinating interactions among many individuals. These swarms are inspired by social insects, such as ant colonies, that can efficiently search for and find food sources in large complex environments, collectively transport large objects, and coordinate the building of nests and bridges in such environments.

Following this inspiration from nature, robot swarms might one day tunnel through rubble to find survivors, monitor environment and remove contaminants, assist dwindling bee populations in pollinating crops, and self-assemble to form support structures in collapsed buildings. Kilobot is designed to provide scientists with a physical test bed for advancing the understanding of collective behaviour and realizing its potential to deliver solutions for a wide range of challenges.

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  • Low cost
  • Small, only 33mm of diameter
  • Fine motor controlling (255 different power levels)
  • Kilobot can communicate with neighbours up to 7 cm.
  • Neighbour-to-neighbour distance sensing
  • Ambient light sensing
  • RGB led
  • Rechargeable and amovible battery
  • Easy to manipulate, with Kilobot controller you can program and control hundreds of Kilobot at one time.


Processor ATmega 328P (8bit @ 8MHz)
Memory 32 KB Flash used for both user program and bootloader, 1KB EEPROM for storing calibration values and other non-volatile data and 2KB SRAM
Battery Rechargeable Li-Ion 3.7V, for a 3 months autonomy in sleep mode. About 2.5 hours in standard use with motors. Each Kilobot has a built-in charger, which charges the onboard battery when +6 volts is applied to any of the legs, and GND is applied to the charging tab.
Charging Kilobot charger (optional). Time for charge is about 3 hours
Communication Kilobots can communicate with neighbors up to 7 cm away by reflecting infrared (IR) light off the ground surface.
Sensing When receiving a message, distance to the transmitting Kilobot can be determined using received signal strength. The brightness of the ambient light shining on a Kilobot can be detected.
Movement Each Kilobot has 2 vibration motors, which are independently controllable, allowing for differential drive of the robot. Each motor can be set to 255 different power levels.
Light Each Kilobot has a red/green/blue (RGB) LED pointed upward, and each color has 3 levels of brightness control.
Dimensions The diameter is 33 mm and the height is 34mm (including the legs)
Software The KiloGUI interface is available for controlling the controller board, sending program files to the robots and controlling them.
Programming For programming, the open source development software WinAVR combinated with Eclipse gives a C programming enviromnent. An API with basic functions such as motor speed, led control, distance measurement,… is available and some examples are provided. An online compiler is also available directly on the Kilobotics website
Debug A serial output header is available on each robot for debugging via computer terminal.
Simulator V-REP, realistic 3D Simulator and robot programming (included for education), with Kilobot model.



Kilobot GUI interface is available to control the controller board, sending program files to the robots and control them.


The open source development software WinAVR combined with Eclipse gives a C programming environment. An API with basic functions such as motor speed, led control, distance measurement,… are available and some examples are provided.

Online compiler is also available directly on the Kilobotics website.









Kilobot controller board with the KiloGUI interface can manage a large amount of robots at the same time.

It can communicate with Kilobots below using infra-red light allowing a user to:

  • send a new program to all Kilobots at once.
  • control Kilobots such as pausing and powering on/off
  • calibrating the motors
  • debugging using the serial port

This action can be done for every Kilobot in an one-meter diameter area below the controller.

Kilobot controller can program an individual Kilobot using the built-in ISP programmer. It can also connect to an individual Kilobot’s serial output header so it can be displayed on a windows computer.

  kilobot-controller-300x290 kilobot_charger_with_robots_face-300x146
  kilogui The pack includes
  • One OHC controller
  • One USB Cable
  • One 2-wire Serial cable
  • One 6-wire programming cable
  • Documentation
User Manual  Software


Kilobot charger is a useful tool allow you to charge up to 10 Kilobots simultaneously in about 3 hours.

You just have to place each Kilobot between in contacts of the charger.

Charger kit


Charger in action with Kilobots

User Manual  

Kilobot Manuals & Downloads

This section is dedicated to the new Kilobot firmware based on the Kilobotics version.

All Kilobots delivered after February 2016 with a serial number above 3000, will be already programmed with this version.

For previous version, the manual and files can be found under the Old Manual / Download section below.

If you want to update your old Kilobot system to the new one, please follow the procedure available here 





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