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 ")

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.' - HG Wells, 1898.

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...' - EM Forster, 1911.

Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.' - Isaac Asimov, 1954.

It's Time For Robots With Soft, Sensitive Skin
Sure, solid metal skin robots looked great once - like in science fiction movies of the 1920's.

 

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

Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...'

Pub Installs Electrified Fence Around Bar
'I start twelve immensely strong wires--naked, not insulated --from a big dynamo...'

What Does A Tesla Full Self-Driving Car See?
'All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures...'

BioVYZR Is Ready, Anti-Covid19 PAPR Lovers
'Some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'

Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'

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.