Above is an animation of how small robots might recombine themselves to form a chair! Here’s what they look like in real life:
Researchers at the EPFL — that’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne — have built awesome modular robots called “Roombots” that can join together to make mobile structures, even furniture.
Each ball-shaped robot is capable of rotating in two diagonal halves, so this makes some curious movement possible. Check out how they can form a figure that waddles across the floor:
The balls can connect to each other (each has several green-tinted “joints”), but they can also pair with passive, non-robotic “plates” to introduce surfaces to the equation. Here’s an animation of how they might come together to form a table:
The real value here is in mobile furniture that can accommodate the elderly or disabled. Watch how this table, outfitted with Roombots, can adjust its height and move into position for someone with limited mobility.
Auke Ijspeert, head of the EFPL’s Biorobotics Laboratory, said, “Eventually, all you’ll need to do is program the layout of a bedroom or a conference room, then let the modules do the work.”
A full video demo appears below:
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