This [3 cm total volume] robot allows building a large-scale swarm system (100 and more robots) to investigate artificial self-organization, emergent phenomena, control in large robotic groups and so on. This research is important to understand underlying principle of information and knowledge processing, adaptation and learning for the design and development of very limited autonomous systems.
Before being open-source, the idea of making a cheap, available and swarm-capable robot was born within the I-Swarm project . The original version of Jasmine robot has been developed in a cooperation between University of Stuttgart (electronic parts) and University of Karlsruhe (mechanical parts).
(Micro robot swarm video)
I've done stories on individual micro robots, but I hadn't really thought about the swarm aspect. In science fiction, tiny robots are often depicted as working together in groups. Consider the robot mice from Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story There Will Come Soft Rains:
Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean.
Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The rooms were acrawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their mustached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at hidden dust.
(Read more about Bradbury's robot mice)