Most common robots used today are robots designed for a specific task like a telepresence or a lawn mower robot. These two social robots have different structures and specifications. The best solution is to have one transformer robot or modules that connect together to form a certain robotic structure for different tasks and replace a telepresence or a lawn mower robot.
Inspired by SF movies engineers and researchers design and build advanced robotic structures including self-reconfigurable modular and transformer robots. These two machines with variable morphology became affordable thanks to new technologies developed and needs that can be covered by these two complex structures.
Self-reconfigurable modular robot is part of a structure where modular robots connect and communicate each other with the aim to create a kinematic machine for a specific task. In general, these little robots defined as modules have their own memory and communicate with all modules to create the optimal structure for the given task. A set of tools could be added to the new created structure, a very important feature of this type of robot.
Inside the labs of MIT, the professor Daniela Rus led a project called Smart Sand where small modules are designed to work in groups and to form simple objects. In 12 millimeters on a side of a module, the researchers found space for enough memory, processing system and a system of communication.
Each module is programmed to share information with other modules in order to solve the task. For communication, each module uses messages that are sent to the entire network of modules to create the desired pattern for a particular object.
Second types of robots described in this article are transformers. These robots can change in a variety of shapes using the same structure. One of the biggest differences between a transformer and a self-reconfigurable robot is the memory. Each self-reconfigurable module has its own memory while a transformer robot has only one brain that controls the kinematic structure and takes decisions based on information received.
There are not too many examples of transfer robots or maybe just a toy invented by the Japanese inventor Kenji Ishida. The transformer toy is a car that can be transformed into a humanoid robot and back. In this complex system of transformation the robot uses 22 motors.
A transformer is difficult to be realized with actual technologies, but it is not impossible. The transformer structure uses several technologies for the same purpose like a transformer car that uses wheels for movement, and after transformation the same structural form a humanoid robot and uses legs for movement.
Self-Reconfigurable Modular and Transformer Robots Similarities
- both kinematic machines are designed to form the optimal structure for a certain task;
- using the same components could be created a variety of structures;
- used for a wide range of tasks in different fields;
Self-Reconfigurable Modular and Transformer Robots Differences
- self-reconfigurable modular robots has a self repair network while transformers in case of damages could be may become unusable;
- a transformer robot can take a limited numbers of shapes compared with self-reconfigurable robots that are able to form a wide variety of shapes;
- self-reconfigurable modular robots uses less resources to form different structures;
In a continuously growing market both self-reconfigurable modular and transformer robots have secured their place among the advanced robots designed to use the same resources for different tasks.Resources
- Real Transformer, How Stuff Works;
- All About Self-Reconfiguring Modular Robots – Advantages and Disadvantages, Smashing Robotics;
- Smart Pebble Robots Will Let You Duplicate Objects on the Fly, IEEE Spectrum;
- Transformers Are Now Real Courtesy Of Japan, Web Pro News.