The world of Artificial intelligence and robotics has always been fascinating to tech geeks. In a new finding by researchers at MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms, a project is being worked on to manufacture self-building robots. The U.S Army Research Laboratory and NASA are included in funding this project. The team says that they will be seen years later and more work needs to be done on them but as of now the work is showing positive results.
Voxels, an array of tiny identical subunits, derived from computer graphics terminology, which carry data and power at the system’s centre can be shared between pieces. These pieces are the base of the robots, holding and fitting additional voxdels prior to moving the grid for further assimilation.
“Our approach challenges the convention that larger constructions need larger machines to build them, and could be applied in areas that today either require substantial capital investments for fixed infrastructure or are altogether unfeasible,” says the findings by researchers in a paper published in Nature.
The MIT team mentioned in the paper that “We introduce a discrete modular material-robot system that is capable of serial, recursive (making more robots), and hierarchical (making larger robots) assembly. This is accomplished by discretizing the construction into a feedstock of simple primitive building blocks which can be re-configured to create a wide range of functionality.”
Neil Gershenfeld, CBA Director and co-author of the paper said in a statement that, “When we’re building these structures, you have to build in intelligence. What emerged was the idea of structural electronics — of making voxels that transmit power and data as well as force. There are no wires. There’s just the structure.”
Some challenges that seem to be hurdling the early manufacturing include the thinking aspect of robots with respect to where to put parts, when to start and stop building and avoiding bumping with other parts. Hardware is another concern as to keep the voxels together, stronger connectors need to be made as these subunits are very small.