Robots have been featured in a variety of movies, reflecting and affecting the way people think about machines. Terminator 3, opening on July 2, is the latest installment in a line of successful movies about rampant machines. The latter two feature liquid metal robots that can “morph”, or change their shape.
There is a growing community of researchers working on robots that can morph also known as Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robots. We will talk about where these systems are today and how they compare to the imaginings we see in the movies. We will explore the issues in mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science, as well as touch on societal issues of robots.
The modular robotics team consisting of Dave Duff, Craig Eldershaw, Kimon Roufas, Mark Yim, and Ying Zhang has been working on modular self-reconfigurable systems for over five years. They have demonstrated a variety of mobility, manipulation and reconfigurability capabilities with several robot systems including one called PolyBot. They have published dozens of research papers on this topic and have had their robot systems featured in national and international news media including BBC, ABC, CBS, USAtoday, NY Times, etc.
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