M-Blocks – Small Cubes That Self-Assemble
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[M-Blocks – Small Cubes That Self-Assemble]
[Daniela Rus:] Source: LYBIO.net
Our objective is to design self-assembling and self-reconfiguring robot systems. These are modular robots with the ability of changing their geometry according to task. And this is exciting because a robot designed for a single task has a fixed architecture and that robot will perform the single task well, but it will perform poorly on a different task in a different environment, if we do not know ahead of time what the robot will have to do and when it will have to do it, it is better to consider making modular robots that can attain whatever shape is needed for the manipulation, navigation or sensing needs of the task.
Up until now, other modular robotic systems use servos and motors in order to have arms, and attachments that move modules into different places. However, we wanted a simpler approach that uses fewer actuators, fewer moving parts and was easier to implement on a lot of different robots. And so the approach that we chose is to use angular momentum, essentially what that means is there is a spinning mass that spins inside the robot, we want the robot to move, it stops that spinning mass which takes that motion from the mass and applied it to the robot and a part of this is unique is that the spinning mass is completely inside the robot. And so the robot doesn’t have to be in a certain position in order for the force to be acted upon the robot and so this allows for a lot more types of motion with only one actuator.
So there were couple of challenges when we came to design the end blocks one was fitting everything inside, we have a relatively small volume and we needed to fit or brush this motor controller or fly wheel, a breaking mechanism, electronics, radio or battery. Additionally we face the challenge of trying to simplify and make the design as robust as possible. So we didn’t want any external moving parts, we didn’t want latches, we didn’t want the cubes to change the shape.
We just wanted simple blocks that were able to move on their own, the magnet system in the cubes is one of its key features. So we have face magnets there is eight face magnets that provide some course alignment and then there is these edge magnets which are free to rotate and the key is it when a cube starts rotating the edge magnets actually get closer to one another. So if we start from this configuration and we break the face magnets free and start rotating, the edge magnets actually get a little bit closer due to the fact the edge is slightly cut back or chambered. And as a result you form a very strong bond between cubes which allows them to stay attached as one is rotating into new position that continues rotating the face magnets provide alignment and it’s now into place.
One other benefit of having an internal actuator is that the cube we’re able to jump and this is a capability that very few robots have and especially very few modular robots because in order to jump there is requirement for very high amount of energy in a very short amount of time, most robots are optimized for control, stability and precise motion. In our robot we found a kind of as an accident that they’re able to jump, we weren’t intending to do that but it ends up that we need enough momentum inside each cube in order to move on a wider structure which is what we intended that we can also when we apply as much energy as possible it can jump through the air; which is pretty exciting because it also allows robots to jump on top of each other; and doesn’t go places that they couldn’t go if they are only moving directly on the structure.
[Kyle Gilpin:] Source: LYBIO.net
Currently we are sending commands to the modules with the radio. So we type commands on our computer those were transferred over a wireless link just like your Wi-Fi system in your house and then the cube response to that. In the future we envision putting the algorithms on the modules themselves. So they completely autonomously in a distributive fashion decide how, when and where to move. So we want they’ll take a large group of cubes and tell them form the shape and give those instructions at a very high level and then have the cubes decide on their own how to go about accomplishing that task.
M-Blocks – Small Cubes That Self-Assemble. Our objective is to design self-assembling and self-reconfiguring robot systems. These are modular robots with the ability of changing their geometry according to task. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.