Video: Robot Builds Other Robots From Foam

Roboticists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Modlab have built a robot that can build and repair other robots using modular parts and an insulating spray-foam.

Robots tend to be designed with a specific task in mind, and their parts are built accordingly. However, there are many missions where this approach doesn’t work. In cases such as disaster recovery, intelligence gathering and space exploration, it isn’t always clear what task a robot might be assigned.

The Foambot was created by a team led by Shai Revzen and comprises of a central platform — a “foam synthesizer cart” — and several jointed modules that be released from the cart and then maneuvered into position. Once the configuration is right, the mothership can spray insulation foam to connect the clusters in order to make a robot — be it a quadruped or a snake.

Foambots can be useful for other applications, such as picking up dangerous objects and quickly creating an emergency doorstop. In the future it could carry a selection of collapsible moulds that the robot could use to make specific components — such as wheels, wings and floats — to ensure it can tackle any terrain it is faced with.

Check out the video of the Foambot creating a quadruped above — watch out for the extraordinary, frog-like movement of the robot when it comes to life.

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