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Programmable Assembly With Universally Foldable Strings (Moteins)

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4 Author(s)
Kenneth C. Cheung ; Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Bits and Atoms, Cambridge, USA ; Erik D. Demaine ; Jonathan R. Bachrach ; Saul Griffith

Understanding how linear strings fold into 2-D and 3-D shapes has been a long sought goal in many fields of both academia and industry. This paper presents a technique to design self-assembling and self-reconfigurable systems that are composed of strings of very simple robotic modules. We show that physical strings that are composed of a small set of discrete polygonal or polyhedral modules can be used to programmatically generate any continuous area or volumetric shape. These modules can have one or two degrees of freedom (DOFs) and simple actuators with only two or three states. We describe a subdivision algorithm to produce universal polygonal and polyhedral string folding schemas, and we prove the existence of a continuous motion to reach any such folding. This technique is validated with dynamics simulations as well as experiments with chains of modules that pack on a regular cubic lattice. We call robotic programmable universally foldable strings “moteins” as motorized proteins.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Robotics  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 4 )