Robots redesign multipurpose spaces in minutes

AUTHOR: Inavate

A US firm is developing a project that uses miniature robots to build furniture and reconfigure spaces so rooms can serve a range of purposes. Once the required space has been designed using a mobile device, a number of small robots underneath the gridded floor get to work lifting and assembling tiles to reconfigure the room from the ground up.

Called DOM Indoors, the system uses a gridded floor five inches from the ground, underneath which the robots operate. Orientating themselves using light sensors and markers on the surface, the robots collect and place modular frame elements and surface tiles to the desired position under the floor. Structures are assembled layer by layer, with robots creating each layer outline using identical modular elements. After a layer outline is assembled under the floor, lifting robots take over. These push the layer up and hold it until other robots secure new supports underneath it. The process is repeated until the structure is assembled – or reversed to disassemble an existing object.

For example, users could build a new room, or download new furniture designs that would literally grow from the floor. New York-based robotics company Asmbld describes the modular tiles as being like pixels. It says these tiles can be of different materials and textures including wood, metal, plastic and ceramic.

Whether the robots will eventually mount displays and move speakers around to adapt to the evolving acoustics of the rooms is another matter.