Currently, while exploring space, we mainly rely on robots to do the job. However, robots have a problem. They can’t move well on difficult surfaces and they can’t do many different things in space.
To solve this problem, scientists have come up with an idea. They want to create robots that can change their shape. These shape-shifting robots could be very useful for exploring space and even for short trips in space.
That’s why engineers have made a new robot called Mori3. It is inspired by origami, the art of folding paper. Mori3 can change its shape and do different tasks. It can walk, pick up and carry things, and even talk to people.
“Mori3 can change its size, shape, and function,” said Jamie Paik, director of the Reconfigurable Robotics Lab, in an official release. “Our aim with Mori3 is to create a modular, origami-like robot that can be assembled and disassembled at will depending on the environment and task at hand,” Paik added.
As per the official release, it combines the capabilities of the “digital world of polygon meshing and the biological world of swarm behavior.” This allows it to transition from 2D triangles to practically any 3D object seamlessly.
“We have shown that polygon meshing is a viable robotic strategy,” said Christoph Belke, a Post-doctoral researcher in robotics.
However, achieving polygon meshing was not a simple process. The team had to think about numerous aspects of robotics design, including mechanical and electronic design and computer systems. “We had to rethink the way we understand robotics. These robots can change their shape, attach to each other, communicate, and reconfigure to form functional and articulated structures,” explains Belke.
The creators of Mori3 say that its ability to change shape and do many things could be very useful for space travel. It is designed to fit into small spaceships where there isn’t much room. Instead of having many different robots for different jobs, Mori3 can do them all.
“Polygonal and polymorphic robots that connect to one another to create articulated structures can be used effectively for a variety of applications. Of course, a general-purpose robot like Mori3 will be less effective than specialized robots in certain areas. That said, Mori3’s biggest selling point is its versatility,” added Paik.
In the future, the creators hope to use Mori3 robots for activities like communication and repairs outside of spaceships. This would make things easier for astronauts.
The scientists who made Mori3 are from a university in Switzerland called EPFL. They published their results in a science journal called Nature Machine Intelligence.