Inspired by heavy-duty construction staples, the Smarticle robot system will swarm together to build more complex and useful structures.
The tiny smarticles—smart active particles—were designed in part based on an observation of how construction staples will entangle in an enclosure to create a larger structure. That led a team from Georgia Tech to create tiny robots only 5cm in length with a pair of flapping arms. When these bots were placed in an enclosure, they ‘nudged’ each other to create a joined ‘supersmarticle’ that can be controlled by a designated stimulus, such as light or sound.
According to Professor Dan Goldman: “As robots become smaller and smaller, we’ll have to use mechanics and physics principles to control them because they won’t have the level of computation and sensing we would need for conventional control.”