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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In his lab at George Mason University in Virginia, Sean Luke has all kinds of robots: big ones with wheels; medium ones that look like humans. And then he has a couple of dozen that look like small, metal boxes.

He and his team at the Autonomous Robotics Lab are training those little ones to work together without the help of a human.

In the future, Luke and his team hope those little robots can work like ants — in teams of hundreds, for example, to build houses, or help search for survivors after a disaster.

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