Friday, August 6, 2010

The Transformer..!!!

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The robot developed at MIT

Transformer robot from the movie

Who haven't seen and enjoyed the movie Transformers...? Its one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. In this movie , some alien machines come to earth from a planet called cybertron. Those alien robots in the movie have a power of transforming themselves into any shape they want. This is one amazing idea to build a shape changing robot is hovering the minds of scientists for a long time. Now finally the researchers from MIT and Harvard have succeeded in getting a step closer in building a transformer...!!!!

Professor Daniela Rus, director of the Distributed Robotics Laboratory at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory(CSAIL) at MIT and Erik Demaine, the youngest professor in the history of MIT (who is also from CSAIL) are the 'beautiful minds' behind the creation of this transformer.

By combining the origami and electrical engineering , Rus and Erik have built a prototype that that can automatically assume the shape of either an origami boat or a paper airplane when it receives different electrical signals.

One of the big research areas in distributed robotics – systems of robots that can work together to tackle complicated tasks – is what’s called “programmable matter,” the idea that small, uniform robots could snap together like intelligent Legos to create larger, more versatile robots.
But according to Rus the approach has some drawbacks. “Most people are looking at separate modules, and they’re really worried about how these separate modules aggregate themselves and find other modules to connect with to create the shape that they’re supposed to create,” Rus says. But, she adds, “actively gathering modules to build up a shape bottom-up, from scratch, is just really hard given the current state of the art in our hardware.”

One of the research areas of Erik is Mathematics of origami, so their idea of combining origami with electrical engineering led to the idea of a flat sheet of material with tiny robotic muscles, or actuators, which could fold itself into useful objects.

About a year ago, Demaine and several colleagues proved that a large enough sheet creased in what’s called the “box pleat pattern” could be folded into a close approximation of any possible three-dimensional shape. The box pleat pattern divides the sheet into squares, each of which has a diagonal crease across it; but if two squares share an edge, their diagonal creases are mirror images.

Based on this result, the team of researchers developed an algorithm that, given an arbitrary three-dimensional shape, could generate a sequence of folds that would produce it from a box-pleated sheet.They also developed another set of algorithms that, given sequences of folds for several different shapes, would determine the minimum number of actuators necessary to produce all of them.

Thus the researchers at MIT successfully built the World's first shape changing robot...!!! Check out this revolutionary prototype of transformer live in action in the video uploaded....

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