Termites are able to construct complicated structures simply by interacting with their environments. Harvard engineers are attempting to build robots that do the same, and which may be able to build more than models in the future.
The robots know what to build because of onboard sensors—when these sensors register their environment, the robot then applies a set of traffic rules that have been programmed by researchers.
Many different traffic patterns can be used; by using any set of simple rules about how to build, the robots can build an infinite number of structures in an infinite number of ways.
Check out Harvard's termite construction robots in action: