The robots built by MIT could help clean the oil spill at the surface of the ocean. Using swarm robotics concepts, 5000 of the robots is estimated to be able to clean the entire spill area at the gulf in one month. The robot digests the oil and works nonstop without any human intervention. Attached to the robot is a thin nanowire mesh that absorbs oil. The mesh repels water while absorbing 20 times its own weight in oil. The power is supplied by solar panels. This enables a continuous autonomous motion.
Swarm robot concept is basically a large number of robots coordinating their movements with each other by continuous communication as part of a one bigger system. For original story, please visit here.