A Versatile Origami-Like Robot: Mori3
Jamie Paik, along with her team from EPFL’s School of Engineering, has developed a remarkable robot called Mori3. This origami-like robot possesses the ability to change shape, roam around, and interact with objects and people.
A Unique Combination: Digital Inspiration Meets Swarm Behavior
The EPFL researchers have combined the principles of polygon meshing from the digital world and swarm behavior from the biological world to create the Mori3 robot. This robot can transform from 2D triangles to almost any desired 3D object. The groundbreaking research has been published in Nature Machine Intelligence and exhibits the potential of modular robotics in space exploration. Jamie Paik, the director of the Reconfigurable Robotics Lab, shares, “We aim to design a modular and origami-like robot that can be assembled or disassembled as required, based on the environment and task at hand. Mori3 can adapt its size, shape, and function accordingly.”
Introducing the Polygon Robot
The individual modules of the Mori3 robot are in the shape of triangles. By seamlessly joining these modules together, different sizes and configurations of polygons can be created, a technique known as polygon meshing. Christoph Belke, a Post-doctoral researcher in robotics, explains the significance of this robotic strategy, stating, “Our research illustrates the feasibility of polygon meshing in robotics.” To achieve this feat, the team had to revolutionize various aspects of robotics, including mechanical and electronic design, computer systems, and engineering. Belke further adds, “We had to reimagine robotics. These robots are capable of self-shaping, attaching to one another, communicating, and reconfiguring themselves to form functional and articulated structures.” This proof of concept has been successful, as Mori3 robots excel in three essential robotic capabilities: mobility, object manipulation, and user interaction.
Unveiling the Potential in Space
The concept of developing modular and multi-functional robots holds several advantages. According to Paik, robots must be able to change their shape or configuration to perform a wide range of tasks. She emphasizes, “Polygonal and polymorphic robots that can connect to each other and form articulated structures are highly effective for various applications.” Although Mori3, as a general-purpose robot, may be less specialized than others in certain specific areas, its greatest strength lies in its versatility. Mori3 robots have been primarily designed for space applications, where storage space is limited. Instead of having separate robots for each task, Mori3 robots can fulfill communication needs and conduct external repairs. The researchers are optimistic about the utilization of Mori3 robots in spacecraft.