Robots that change shape and behavior are being developed worldwide. The shape-changing robot can perform more functions in more environments than a rigid robot.
EPFL engineers constructed an origami-like robot that can change shape, move, and interact with people and objects.
The Mori3 robot can transform from 2D triangles into practically any 3D object by drawing inspiration from polygon meshing and swarm dynamics. The research suggests modular robotics for space travel.
“Our goal with Mori3 is to create a modular, origami-like robot that can be assembled and disassembled at will depending on the environment and task,” says Jamie Paik, head of the Reconfigurable Robotics Lab. “Mori3 changes size, shape, and function.”
Polygon meshing allows the Mori3 robot’s triangle modules to form different-sized polygons.
“We had to rethink the way we understand robotics,” says Christoph Belke, a robotics postdoctoral researcher. “These robots can change shape, attach, communicate, and reconfigure to form functional and articulated structures.”
Researchers say Mori3 shape-shifting robots can move independently, communicate with humans, and handle and transport goods, making the proof of concept a success.
Paik thinks polygonal and polymorphic robots that join to construct articulated structures can be utilized for many purposes. Of course, Mori3 is less effective than specialist robots in some sectors. However, Mori3’s greatest asset is its versatility.”
The Mori3 shape-shifting robot fits in spacecraft, which cannot hold many robots for each duty. The team wants to deploy robots for communication and exterior maintenance.