Roombot Furniture

Modular self-adaptive furniture that can reconfigure itself into any common furniture shape will change how we utilize living space. Walls might be next. When these concepts merge with nanotechnology, we could have “smart blob” furniture and living spaces that are similar to the Star Trek “holodeck” idea.

Roombots Want To Be All The Furniture You’ll Ever Need – [ieee.org]

Having lots of furniture is a terribly inefficient way to live, considering that most of your furniture is not actually in use most of the time. A much better way to do it would be to just have one single piece of furniture that manages to be, say, a chair, a table, and a bed whenever you need it to be. You know, like my couch. But if you need more specific functionality, you may soon be able to get it using Roombots, little modular robots that can configure themselves into all kinds of different objects.

Modular robotics for adaptive and self-organizing furniture – [epfl.ch]

This project intends to design and control modular robots, called Roombots, to be used as building blocks for furniture that moves, self-assembles, self-reconfigures, and self-repairs. Modular robots are robots made of multiple simple robotic modules that can attach and detach (Wikipedia: Self-Reconfiguring Modular Robotics). Connectors between units allow the creation of arbitrary and changing structures depending on the task to be solved. Compared to “monolithic” robots, modular robots offer higher versatility and robustness against failure, as well as the possibility of self-reconfiguration. The type of scenario that we envision for the Rolex Learning Center is a group of Roombots that autonomously connect to each other to form different types of furniture, e.g. stools, chairs, sofas and tables, depending on user requirements. This furniture will change shape over time (e.g. a stool becoming a chair, a set of chairs becoming a sofa) as well as move using actuated joints to different locations depending on the users needs. When not needed, the group of modules can create a static structure such as a wall or a box.

Self-Adaptive Furniture with a Modular Robot – [harvard.edu]

Abstract
Robotics has great potential in designing interactive furniture. Modular robots are a special type of robot that are composed of multiple units, and each of them has independent computation and actuation capabilities. Recently, we have proposed an environmentally-adaptive shape formation framework for modular robots [Yu et al. 2007]. In this paper, we review one specific application under this framework—a self-balancing table. The table legs are formed by connected modules that are programmed to jointly maintain the table surface level at all time.

We present a decentralized control algorithm to achieve this goal which has several salient features: first, it relies on simple local rules for each module; second, if the environment changes, the modules automatically adapt to jointly maintain the table surface level; third, it is scalable to the number of modules and finally it is robust to individual module failure. In addition, such an algorithm can achieve a wide range of environmentally-adaptive structures beyond the level table surface.

There are several ongoing research directions in our group that share the same theme. We foresee such types of self-adaptive frameworks have great potential in future interactive/adpative furniture designs.

SEE ALSO:
Claytronics
Modular Robotics
Utility Fog

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