Self-Building Robotic Furniture: Dream Or Reality?
Remember Transformers? The movie with cars transforming into robots (Autobots) that fight against destructive forces that plan to conquer the Earth? The famous SF series is beginning to look less like fiction and more like science since the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) started working on a project to create robots that can transform into furniture.
According to Auke Ijspeert, the lab director at the EPFL, a team of scientists it currently developing self-building robotic furniture that could be used at home as well as in offices. These Roombots (as they have been called) will be able to merge with various materials in order to create adaptable furniture that can be easily repurposable.
For now, the number one priority of the project is to create furniture that can move by itself and get out of the way or follow humans around. This is designed to help the elderly and people with reduced mobility. At the moment these bots can only be addessed through PC algorithms, but the scientist hope to be able to install video cameras that will track the users or, even better, voice recognition technology.
The ultimate goal of the project is to create self-configuring mobile robotic furniture that works with as little human interaction as possible. It's supposed to be something like a robot that turns into a chair during the day and a couch at night. Although it may seem like a notion from the far future, Roombots could become a reality sooner than most of us would have expected.