Jim, interesting point about cost in your earlier post. One thing that will affect cost is whether all of the cubes are identical, so can take advantage of economies of scale in production, or some of them have specialized functions, which will of course obviate same. This basic and simple difference is a major point in robotic self-assemby.
Right – only a PoC, but a very well-engineered and demonstrated PoC. I can visualize the magnets mounted on pinion-driven brackets, and after initial magnetic connection, a pinion drive physically engaged the magnetic pins into recess on the mating block. Lots of very cool potential on this idea, as autonomous building blocks.
Jim, the bonds are magnetic, so they're not all that strong. This is a proof of concept, barely even a prototype. Notice how the researchers say that bridge repair and structures built with them would be temporary. I'm really interested to see what other means of fastening/connecting can be applied.
Of course, economical price is less important for emergency, disaster & recovery, but to truly become commercially viable, each block cost will have to be "reasonably" priced. Considering that in its present configuration that each block contains a flywheel, brake, brushless motor, PCB with controller, modem and a battery, they are still quite costly from a pure BOM standpoint, but certainly low-priced compared to other robots today. Maybe if 1,000's were used to collectively "build a bridge" as speculated, there could be some advancement in the way they share components as a group.
That is fascinating. Imagine the future where they might air-drop several thousand of these over an earthquake site, and watch them autonomously build a bridge over rushing flood water. I didn't catch any details on the strength of the elements-to-element bond, in that type of scenario where overall group strength, as a finished colony of blocks into a single structure, would be critical.
Well, yes and no, Chuck. Transformers re-configure themselves. These cubes self-assemble first and then reconfigure themselves. In robotics, these are considered different problems to solve, mechanically and algorithmically.
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