Introducing the reconfigurable furniture bots, the Roombots
- Jun 29, 2016
Did you ever envision tiny robotic modules attaching themselves to a specific storage box, rearranging and reconfiguring themselves to transport the same storage box to a place where you would like it to be? Well if you did, you might be in luck. Roombots, a series of reconfigurable robotic modules can do the same things effectively. The reconfigurable robotic modules can connect to one another with the sole purpose of transforming themselves into any form or any type of furniture as needed and also change their shapes in a manner that’s convenient for the user. The concept seems pretty extravagant and a part of fiction but this is a part of the real world. This article will try to throw light on various attributes of Roombots and will also present you with a short video of roombots in action.
Roombots: A brief introduction
Roombots are basically reconfigurable bots capable of connecting with one another and forming customizable furniture that are suitable enough for specific people according to specific needs. Roombots are created by Biorobotics Laboratory. It can form almost any type of shapeshifting furniture. Probably you are thinking about the classic shape-shifting alien in that novel Who goes there? AKA The thing by John W. Campbell (if you know what we are talking about) but we can assure you that this bot is no alien and is an earthy object created by the very people of the earth. Roombots are immensely beneficial to disable or specially challenged people because of the customization features that they provide. Roombots can suit themselves to the user needs. These bots can also attach themselves to your existing furniture, thereby providing more flexibility to movability.
A few example furniture created by Roombots
We have already said that roombots has the capability of latching on to one another to create various structures and shapes. A few static furniture made by roombots are:
A chair made by Roombots (Image courtesy: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)
A table made from Roombots (Image courtesy: Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL)
There are endless possibilities.
Technical specification of a roombot
Each individual roombot module contains 3 motors, connectors as well as grippers that can attach as well as detach to another module or another object. All these modules are controlled by specific algorithms that are modeled on neural network of animals. There are various sensors attached to the bot. The same sensors can sense data from the environment to perform various tasks as per requirement.
Roombots in action
Say for example that a person is lying down on a roombot bed. The same bed can be moved up to a position suitable for sitting or more specifically, we should say a chair. Other structures like a table can also be formed by the same roombots engaged in the formation of a bed and also provides the users with some extraordinarily unusual features like tilting the surface of the table in a manner in which a book slides into the hand of the user. This short video will show you these roombots in action.
Massimo Vespignani, a PhD student at Biorobotics Laboratory said, "We start from a group of Roombot modules that might be stacked together for storage. The modules detach from this pile to form structures of two or more modules. At this point they can start moving around the room in what we call off-grid locomotion. We are currently trying to control larger structures, while trying to reduce as much as possible the energy consumption and impacts with the ground."
The roombots has the capability of climbing up any vertical structure like a wall and also has the capability of climbing over a steep step. Roombots can pick up and arrange connector plates to form various structures like that of a table. We have already provided you such a sample table up above made by the roombots.
The bots are suitable enough for disabled or specially challenged people because of the various customizable features provided by the bots. They can also be immensely beneficial for elderly persons with limited mobility. We have already said this above. But that’s not all. You have already seen some exquisite design furniture created by roombots. So what do you reckon? Isn’t that a piece of art? Course it is. These bots can be used to create interactive pieces of art suitable for exhibitions and also to design your very own smart homes. These bots also provide you the options of implementing trial and error methods while designing your home which should be of immense fun and gratification.
Last but not the least, these bots can be packed together tightly which helps in easy transportation and save various inconveniences while doing the same. The bot modules also exhibit a light weight which is surely an additional benefit. Existing furniture can be augmented and modified through the use of these roombots which is also an important advantage of roombots.
Roombots are a fascinating set of bots because customizable furniture is still a rarity in this modern generation. The added advantage that these bots have is that it’s tailor made for elderly or disabled people. Anything that can provide sufficient freedom to a person is certainly a desirable asset and if the same thing can change the life of a person from the realms of disappointment to the realms of enjoyment, then there’s nothing better than that thing. Roombots can be considered a part of the same and hence, the entire project is appreciated whole-heartedly from our ends. But how do you rate this endeavor? We would certainly love to listen to your opinions. You can write the same in the comment section below. So long for now then! Ciao!
Futurite aims to bring high quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to school students in India. Our mission is to use cutting-edge technologies such as Robotics and 3D Printing to impart a thorough grounding in STEM subjects and concepts to school students while making their learning experience fun, engaging and hands-on. Futurite has been operating in Dubai successfully (as Premier Genie) since a number of years, working with over 25 of the top international schools and teaching 1000+ students. Futurite has been founded by alumni from IIT, IIM, JU and HEC Paris.
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