- Mixed Biological-Robotic Systems
- Multi-Robot Coordination and Swarming
- Smart Materials
- Journal Club
We wish to design distributed algorithms that guide the assembly of structures from passive building blocks. A specific application that we are currently exploring is the autonomous assembly of large-scale space telescopes. Space telescopes are currently deployed in a single launch and “unfold” when they reach their destination. Weight constraints and cost of the launch vehicle, limits their maximum diameter to 6-7m. As the obtainable resolution increases quadratically with their radius, building larger telescopes is very desirable. For example, there exists thousands of other suns with potentially earth-like planets that we simply cannot see. Being able to increase the resolution by a factor 100 (roughly a 40m dish) or 1000 (roughly a 60m dish) would already have tremendous impact and could transform our understanding of our role in the universe.
We propose to coordinate the assembly of structures using “intelligent scaffolding”.Intelligent scaffolds (IS) are computational building blocks that have some sensing, actuation, computation and communication abilities. IS blocks store all the information that are required to assemble a structure and serve as markers on the structure as assembly progresses. IS blocks remain in a contiguous group and always remain attached to the structure. By continuously re-assembling along the surface of the structure being built, arbitrary large-scale structures can be built from inert components with only a few IS blocks.
The IS paradigm is scale-free and independent of the locomotion mechanism of building and IS blocks. For example, IS blocks could guide a team of mobile manipulators to add passive building blocks to a structure, remove an IS block, or attach an IS block to the scaffold structure by signaling using LEDs on their faces. In this case, robot manipulators that move blocks would not need to communicate, would not need the ability to assess construction progress, and could identify where to place the next block by relying on an IS block as a marker using minimal perception abilities. At a microscopic scale, intelligent scaffolds could self-assemble in a well-stirred liquid and selectively bind passive building blocks to their surface, detach, and re-attach elsewhere on the scaffold until the desired structure is completed.
This research is supported by a NASA STR fellowship.
E. Komendera, D. Reishus and N. Correll. Assembly by Intelligent Scaffolding. Technical report CU-CS 1080-11, April 2011.