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National Science Foundation
NSF's Role
Daniela RusDaniela Rus
Daniela Rus serves as co-director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) Center for Robotics and professor in electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. See how NSF has supported her research. Image credit: Daniela Rus
 
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Cartoon of robotTeaching a Robot to Tunnel
Robots can be made up of many individual modules, each one programmed to act independently. The modules then rearrange to create locomotion. In this algorithm, the robot rearranges to move through the confined space of a tunnel.
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Photo of robots in a rowDivide and Conquer
Self-reconfiguring robots change shape without human intervention. So the challenge posed to robots is: given a start shape and a goal shape, find the sequence of events to achieve it without self-collision. Here, one robot breaks into four using just expand/contract and detach mechanisms.
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Illustration of cubes in shape of a dogSit, Stay
This conceptual illustration shows how a reconfiguring robot made of cubes could morph from a dog shape to a couch shape. Someday, very tiny cubes could potentially manufacture on command any desired object.
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Photo of robot cubes in shape of dog with extra cubes that dropped offShape Sculpting
Like a sculptor would remove extra marble to create a statue, an arrangement of robots can be commanded to self-disassemble in an organized manner to create a shape. First, the initial amorphous shape is assembled by hand. Then the modules communicate to establish their location and the goal shape. Finally, unneeded modules disconnect to create, in this example, a dog.
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IEEE spectum
Go to Engineers of the New Millennium home page Go to Robots for Real MIT's Shape Shifting Robots