A fleet of construction robots could build large structures

⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this partner content (after ad)

These little robotic workers are still in training. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who have designed a fleet of construction robots, however, believe they have the potential to assemble large structures in the future.

Scientists hope their robots will be able to build things much bigger than themselves, like vehicles or even bigger robots. Their most recent studies show, for example, that they may also be able to build deformable elements, such as an airplane wing or even a functioning racing car.

The principle of this construction method is to work by assembling several identical small parts. The various elements built, as well as the robots themselves, can then be assembled in this way. In short, it is a bit as if lego robots could play with lego themselves. These would also be able to work in teams, moving independently to build large structures quickly. These results were published in the journal Natural communications engineering.

But be careful: if these small workers really have this potential according to studies, they are far from having already realized it. “ A fully autonomous, self-replicating robot assembly system capable of both assembling larger structures, including larger robots, and planning the best build sequence… It will still take years “, specifies Neil Gershenfeld, one of the authors of the study, in an MIT release.

However, according to scientists, apprentice robots are making significant progress. For example, I’m now able to tell when more robots need to be built to progress on a task. Scientists also worked on how to organize them into swarms of different sizes in order to build structures efficiently and without colliding.

Voxel as construction unit

The key to the functioning of these robots are the “voxels”. These are all identical building units. These are the famous “legos” that robots are made of, and which they also use to build them. However, these voxels don’t just shape a construction. They also directly transmit data and energy to perform the necessary functions.


When we build these structures, we need to integrate intelligence “explains Neil Gershenfeld. ” Earlier versions of assembly robots were wired to the power source and control systems. What emerged was the idea of ​​structural electronics: create voxels that transmit power and data as well as force “. In this new system, “there are no children. There is only the structure”.

The robots themselves are made up of a chain of several voxels, joined end to end. They are able to grab onto another voxel using the attachment points at their ends. They then “crawl”, somewhat like a caterpillar, to the desired location, and attach the new voxel to the structure.

In this process, there comes a time when the journey to the fixation point can be very long. The robot can then make the decision to build another robot instead, the same size or larger, if it believes that construction will be done more efficiently that way. There have been many studies on the use of robot builders, the scientists point out. ” But the next step, where the robot has to make the decision to build another robot or another type of robot, is new “. According to MIT, this method could open up new perspectives in the field of construction.

Video explanation:

Source: Natural Communications Engineering

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *