Not only can these small robots work together to build model towers, they are programmed to even wiggle the pieces to make sure they’ve achieved a tight fit. Using an algorithm developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP laboratory (http://www.grasp.upenn.edu/), these robots, called “quadrotors,” are capable of building tower-like structures utilizing magnetic beams like the ones above. Using four rotors and a downward-facing clasp, the quadrotors are able to lift the required pieces horizontally or vertically to place them.
Researcher Daniel Mellinger says the technology is already so advanced that the quadrotors are able to build any tower-like structure the researchers design, and they “are only limited by the battery life of the quadrotors and the number of parts available.” These quadrotors are a major tribute to the cutting edge research, taking place in robotics across the country, led by researchers who use complex mathematical algorithms to approach complicated problems. People have long speculated about how much work machines will eventually be able to complete in construction projects, and while building an office building is certainly a much different challenge than is constructing magnetic towers, a development like this makes it easy to someday see swarms of these quadcopters working together to speed up construction projects and to prevent injuries to human construction workers.
For more information about the exciting field of robotics, check out the impact its having on the fields of medicine, and transportation, or how being home to over 93 robotics laboratories and companies puts Massachusetts at the forefront of future robotics research.
Written by: Walter Palmer