Distributed Systems of Self-Configuring Robots

Using self-configuration to create more versatile robots: hundreds of small modules will autonomously reorganize as geometric structures to best fit the terrain on which the robot has to move, the shape of the object the robot has to manipulate, or the sensing needs for the given task. For example, a robot could synthesize a snake shape to travel through a narrow tunnel, and then morph into a six-legged insect to navigate rough terrain when it exits.

Robots that reconfigure themselves based on environment or task.

Robots of the future will consist of hundreds of small modules that will autonomously reorganize as geometric structures to best fit their given tasks. These modules will be embedded in all construction materials and will be able to assemble into objects from lampposts and couches to space structures. In medicine, a patient will swallow the units, which will assemble into surgical instruments once in place. Architects and designers will use these modules to synthesize "physical CAD" models that can be touched.

Daniella Russ
Dartmouth College
6211 Sudikoff Lab
Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire 03755 USA

Daniella Russ
Zack Butler
Robert Fitch
Keith Kotay
Dartmouth College

Illustrated summaries of SIGGRAPH 2002 Emerging Technologies projects are available in the SIGGRAPH 2002 Conference Abstracts and Applications

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