Researchers from the Mediated Matter Lab in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab created a robotic arm that can weave.
First, this is not a robotic spider, it’s a non-autonomous robotic arm pre-programmed to weave a structure out of its own surroundings. Down the road, the researchers plan to make the robotic arm autonomous so it can sense where objects are and build its own structure to fit the surroundings.
Much like a spider weaves a web between things – walls, branches, the head of a flower, this robotic arm is doing the same — creating a space within structural and environmental requirements of the space.
The practical applications of using a robot to weave a structure is that it could become a deployable platform capable of building a large structure, like say a gantry platform inside or around another large structure. A gantry platform looks like this (see right) and is a rigid steel or aluminum framework or walkway used inside stadiums, over vehicles or in environmental situations, like inspection walkways, building sites or platforms.
“We are just beginning to explore the different forms and shapes that we can generate,” said Elizabeth Tsai, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab. “The full implications of autonomous fabrication dependent on structural and environmental conditions are still unclear but may result in woven habitats with properties that vary locally, resulting in a high degree of material and structural efficiency.”
The goal of the research is to develop and apply novel processes that will enable and support design of physical matter that can be adapted to its specific environmental conditions – by doing this they hope they can transform design and construction of objects, buildings and systems.