Swiss and Portuguese engineers have unveiled a new prototype robotic Roombot. Several such robots can form various structures using electric motors. The developers have revealed a few examples of how such robots can gather in a chair, and also to complement conventional furniture, equipping it with new features such as the ability to move around the room. The engineers published an article in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, and also gave an interview to the publication IEEE Spectrum.
There is a concept of the dynamic interior that can change depending on the current needs of the owner. In commercial projects almost always used motorized pieces of furniture, for example, in the project the Cabinet-transformer Ori.
Researchers from the field of robotics and design is often used not specific elements, albeit capable of performing a different function and generic blocks or modules. For example, in January we told you about a projectin which on a site area of several square meters are square modules that are able to swell and move upwards, forming different elements, such as chair and table. Most often these projects are impractical and not applicable outside of the lab, they can test concepts, which are then in modified form can be used in useful devices.
The robots, developed by Simon Hauser (Simon Hauser) and Mehmet Mutlu (Mutlu Mehmet) from the Federal Polytechnic school of Lausanne and their colleagues, represents such a project, but base units are separate from each other, which gives more opportunities for the formation of complex structures. Each robot consists of two conditionally cubic parts, linked together, and each of the two cubes is also consists of two halves. The robot has 10 pads, of which the two most remote from each other — it is an active site with a proposed mechanical lock, allowing you to tightly mate with other robots.
Each robot has three electric motors by which its parts can rotate relative to each other, which allows robots to form complex structures. For this, the robot turns to a neighboring robot and combines pads. They have a ring of magnets with alternating polarities, therefore, when approaching each other, the robots are guided clearly and can only occupy certain positions in increments of 90 degrees. After pad contact, robots mechanical fix with the push rod.
On each pad there are infrared sensors and Hall sensors for docking with other robots, the accelerometer to determine the position relative to the floor, and also the LEDs for indication of parameters and the illumination of the surrounding space. Besides the usual robots engineers have created a robot with pneumatic friction gripping.