HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Engineering Materials
Video: Robotic Cubes Self-Assemble
10/18/2013

Image 1 of 2      Next >

MIT researchers have developed self-assembling, flywheel-driven modular cube robots, shown here with innards exposed and flywheel pulled out. (Source: M. Scott Brauer/MIT)
MIT researchers have developed self-assembling, flywheel-driven modular cube robots,
shown here with innards exposed and flywheel pulled out.
(Source: M. Scott Brauer/MIT)

Image 1 of 2      Next >

Return to Article

View Comments: Newest First|Oldest First|Threaded View
Page 1/3  >  >>
Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot parts
Ann R. Thryft   10/25/2013 1:21:03 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree, Elizabeth. I'm glad you brought it up because the whole concept of what could work as a secondary, stronger connection method is an interesting design--and manufacturing--problem. Pinions might be too complex and expensive, and at much smaller dimensions probably wouldn't work at all.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot parts
Elizabeth M   10/24/2013 5:03:59 AM
NO RATINGS
Ah, yes, sorry about the misunderstanding there. I didn't read the whole thread and missed that part. Just now went back and read over the comments and I see what he means. Still would be a good idea!

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Instant bridge in a natural disaster
Ann R. Thryft   10/23/2013 7:03:36 PM
NO RATINGS
Jim, after writing about sophisticated optimization software I saw demo'ed at the Altair conference, I'm even more acutely aware of how much the smallest changes can make in efficiency and manufacturability of a design, not to mention cost. So I'm not at all sure that adding extra volume to each cube that's only going to be used in only a few of them would be a good idea from a cost and price standpoint of manufacturing thousands or more. That's not done in any other high-volume product; I doubt it would be in robots. The economies of scale you seem to be thinking of are usually applicable to zillions of semiconductor chips or millions of very simple consumer products. Economies of scale don't work the same in different types of product designs.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Instant bridge in a natural disaster
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/23/2013 2:25:44 PM
NO RATINGS
OK, point taken.  SO, thinking about it from a product design perspective you still benefit from economy of scale by designing the basic cube package with void space areas that can house the special features you mention on enhanced cubes.  Like adding bells & whistles option to a car; the base model remains the same.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Instant bridge in a natural disaster
Ann R. Thryft   10/23/2013 12:05:05 PM
NO RATINGS
Jim, that identical-cube scenario is called a homogeneous architecture, which does have the advantage of interchangeable cubes that are easily replaced in a structure, as we discussed in this feature article on self-assembled devices: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=261138 But the researchers say that they do envision "special-purpose cubes, containing cameras, or lights, or battery packs, or other equipment, which the mobile cubes could transport." This is a heterogeneous architecture, which gives the structure, or robot, built with such modules much more potential functions and capabilities.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot parts
Ann R. Thryft   10/23/2013 12:04:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Elizabeth, Jim's description combined magnetic and pinion connections, in a 2-step connection process. Unless I misunderstood what he wrote. Right, Jim?

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot parts
Ann R. Thryft   10/23/2013 11:53:33 AM
NO RATINGS
Rob, the researchers say in the press release that they hope to get the module size down a lot smaller, as is typical in modular robotics for self-assembly, as we discussed here:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=261138

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot parts
Elizabeth M   10/23/2013 4:57:34 AM
NO RATINGS
I agree with you about JimT's suggestion, Ann...it's a good one, Jim. Why should these self-assembly robots be mutually exclusive? Magnetic connections would be a great way to connect them.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Instant bridge in a natural disaster
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/22/2013 10:28:14 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree, and I think it would be 'key' that all blocks be identical; ubiquitously interchangeable like Lego Blocks, all the same size.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot parts
Rob Spiegel   10/22/2013 7:20:29 PM
NO RATINGS
Ann, then it will certainly be interesting to see what the team comes up with next. While the cubes show a new take on movement and control, the next step may be a practical application. Perhaps integrated drive reassembly as a plant shifts from one product to the next.

Page 1/3  >  >>
Partner Zone
More Blogs from Engineering Materials
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
After a year or so of missteps, false starts, retractions, and postponements, inkjet office printer giant Hewlett-Packard has finally revealed just what it plans to do in 3D printing.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
Design News Webinar Series
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Nov 17 - 21, Analog Design for the Digital World
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service