University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed a modular robot that can separate at predetermined locations on impact, and then put itself back together again. The robot’s basic unit that can separate from other pieces include one camera and four sections, and it can move by itself. Each of these modules contain four circuit boards and a motor. The connection between the modules are either magnetic or by screws. Upon impact, modules which are normally connected magnetically separate from each other. Then the separated modules are able to find themselves back together again, by seeing the leds that are displayed on each of the modules. Every module has its own unique blinking pattern, so different modules are able to recognize each other with their cameras. After locating, the modules come back together again by moving individually. The orientation of the module in the beginning is not important, as it is designed to correct itself and start moving from every possible position. Then finally the magnetic connection locations come together and two modules bond. Once this happens, the connected module with the greater number of individual modules become the master module and is able to control others. To see how it works, see the news on ny times here.
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