Researchers make progress toward groups of robots that could build almost anything, including buildings, vehicles, and even bigger robots.
Researchers at MIT have made significant steps toward creating robots that could practically and economically assemble nearly anything, including things much larger than themselves, from vehicles to buildings to larger robots.
The new work, from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), builds on years of research, including recent studies demonstrating that objects such as a deformable airplane wing and a functional racing car could be assembled from tiny identical lightweight pieces — and that robotic devices could be built to carry out some of this assembly work. Now, the team has shown that both the assembler bots and the components of the structure being built can all be made of the same subunits, and the robots can move independently in large numbers to accomplish large-scale assemblies quickly.
The new work is reported in the journal Nature Communications Engineering, in a paper by CBA doctoral student Amira Abdel-Rahman, Professor and CBA Director Neil Gershenfeld, and three others.