A pouf meets another pouf and the two fuse to form a bench. Or, a chaise transforms itself into a knobby end table.
Researchers have developed little modular robots called Roombots that they hope will, one day, become the building blocks of furniture that can change form and function, even move about.
Akin to high-tech LEGO blocks, these little robots can twist, rotate, crawl, climb on top of one another, and reconfigure themselves into different objects, just like low-tech transformers.
Each module consists of two dice-shaped bots, connected by three motors, which allows the pair to pivot in ways single-piece robots can’t. Claw-like grippers allow one module to latch onto the other, while algorithms direct their motion.
So far, it’s been possible to tell a robot to morph from a desk into a chair, but building a structure sturdy enough to bear the weight of an adult is yet to be achieved.