Autonomous Modular Robots

Autonomous Modular Robots

Robots today have a wide range of uses. Some are created to mimic certain kinds of animals or insects, and some are for general purpose work like big factory assembly lines. But what these robots have in common is that they are built to satisfy one specific task, thus they cannot change their components depending on the situation. That, however, is not an issue with modular robots.

A research team from Cornell University has developed modular robots that can sense its environment, make decisions, and autonomously rearrange its components to accomplish various tasks. Hadas Kress-Gazit, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell and the principal investigator on the project, said that “this is the first time modular robots have been demonstrated with autonomous reconfiguration and behaviour that is perception-driven.”

There are other modular robots in the market today that can perform tasks in controlled environments, but the modular robots created by the team is the first to demonstrate fully autonomous behavior in doing tasks in an unfamiliar environment. "I want to tell the robot what it should be doing, what its goals are, but not how it should be doing it," Kress-Gabit said. "I don't actually prescribe, 'Move to the left, change your shape.' All these decisions are made autonomously by the robot."

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