Roboticist, Inventor, Researcher & Teacher
As a child, James McLurkin was constantly building with LEGO bricks, cardboard boxes, or any other materials he could access. Today, he continues this tradition using Mother Nature as a model, researching and developing algorithms and techniques for constructing and programming large swarms of autonomous robots.
A leader in the field of robotics, McLurkin is an assistant professor at Rice University in the Department of Computer Science. His research focuses on developing distributed algorithms for multi-robot systems, which are software that produce complex group behaviors from the interactions of many simple individuals. These ideas are not new: ants, bees, wasps, and termites have been running this type of software for 120 million years. His research group has one of the largest collections of robots in the world, with over 200 robots in use. The SwarmBots were originally created during McLurkin’s five-year tenure as lead research scientist at iRobot, one of the world’s leading robotics companies, and were the largest swarm in the world at the time.