TETWalker: Shape-Shifting Robot Swarm

A tetrahedral walker, or TETWalker robot, was demonstrated recently at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. This bot is a prototype member of an autonomous nanotechnology swarm that can alter their shape to flow smoothly over rocky terrain, or combine to create structures like communications antennae and solar sails.


(TETWalker Prototype)

A robot shaped like a tetrahedron (a four-sided geometric figure) can "walk" by moving its center of mass to the side until it tips over in that direction. Repeating this movement results in a kind of side-to-side walking pattern.


(Simple TETWalker Concept)

If you add the ability to telescope the rods connecting the nodes of the tetrahedron, you get a robot that is capable of moving over obstacles. And the pyramid is a very strong and stable structure:

"If current robotic rovers topple over on a distant planet, they are doomed -- there is no way to send someone to get them back on their wheels again. However, TETwalkers move by toppling over. It's a very reliable way to get around," said Dr. Steven Curtis, principal investigator for the project.


(Complex TETWalker Concept)

The prototype was tested in Antarctica in January for harsh Mars-like testing. Motors may be placed at the center of the struts to improve reliability. The Autonomous Nanotechnology Swarm team (ANTS) believe that TETWalkers can be miniaturized using micro-electro-mechanical systems; by retracting their struts fully, TETWalkers can be stored for space voyages in very small spaces.

Eventually, it is hoped that the tiny 'bots will be able to swarm together to construct small objects or structures, like communications dishes.

In his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson wrote about swarms of tiny aerostats that used a grid formation to defend their assigned territory. Althought they functioned as independent devices, their swarm behavior let them respond as a group to threats.

Read more at NASA Tests Shape-Shifting Robot Pyramid For Nanotech Swarms; check out the autonomous nanotechnology swarm website. You might also be interested in a recent SF in the News story MADMEN Robot Swarm To Handle Incoming Asteroids?.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/30/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.' - Greg Bear, 2015

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.' - Chubby Checker, 1961

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.