Playdough to Roombots: Towards a Novel Tangible User Interface for Self-reconfigurable Modular Robots

Mehmet Mutlu, Simon Hauser, Alexandre Bernardino, Auke Ijspeert
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 21-25 May 2018

One of the main strengths of self-reconfigurable modular robots (SRMR) is their ability to shape-shift and dynamically change their morphology. In the case of our SRMR system “Roombots”, these shapes can be quite arbitrary for a great variety of tasks while the major utility is envisioned to be self-reconfigurable furniture. As such, the ideas and inspirations from users quickly need to be translated into the final Roombots shape. This involves a multitude of separate processes and – most importantly – requires an intuitive user interface. Our current approach led to the development of a tangible user interface (TUI) which involves 3D-scanning of a shape formed by modeling clay and the necessary steps to prepare the digitized model to be formed by Roombots. The system is able to generate a solution in less than two minutes for our target use as demonstrated with various examples.

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