Teamwork is a new concept in the field of robotics, but the idea of creating hundreds of cheap disposable robots that work together to complete a greater task has a lot of promise. So far swarm bots—as they've come to be known—have successfully tackled problems on land and in the air. But now DARPA wants them teaming up on oceans, lakes, and rivers too.

The agency is funding researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who are developing a small fleet of robot boats that can come together to form larger structures as needed. Each bot is outfitted with four separate motors and propellers so they're highly maneuverable, and eventually DARPA wants them to be the size of shipping containers so they could be summoned to form usable structures like bridges, floating helipads, and even emergency coastal airports. It's an ideal solution for areas dealing with a natural disaster that doesn't suck up resources or manpower that could be used for rebuilding damaged infrastructure. [The Daily Pennsylvanian via Automaton]