A team of researchers at Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new type of robot that could be a revolution in building everything from airplanes to bridges and even massive superstructures.
BILL-E, short for Bipedal Isotropic Lattice Locomoting Explorer is developed with the vision of graduate student named Benjamin Jenett, working with Professor Neil Gershenfeld for his doctoral thesis work at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms looks like a small arm with a hinge at the middle that gives the robot its signature inchworm-like movement. At both ends of the robot’s arm, it includes tools called “voxels” for clamping down on structures.
Professor Gershenfeld says that “you can’t separate the robot from the structure — they work together as a system” these robots don’t require highly precise navigation systems to keep track of their position instead it uses “voxels” every time the robot takes a step onto the next voxel, it readjusts its sense of position, always in relation to the specific components that it is standing on at the moment.
Using these assembler robots large structures can be made easily like building LEGO castles which uses the block design as even with the army of robots working together never get in each other’s way. They are easy to repair and maintain if any damage occurs the damaged parts will be replaced with the new component making it as robust as the original.
This project is published in the October issue of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.
It’s still a prototype and the final model will take some time since it’s a new technology but the project has received interest and financial support by heavyweights including NASA and Airbus.