The Future of Modular Robotics: EPFL’s Mori3, the Polygon Joiner Robot


The herd behavior of the biological world and the polygonal interweaving of the digital sphere came together to inspire the creation of the Mori3 robot, a breakthrough in the world of modular robotics. This new discovery developed by researchers at EPFL shows the potential of morphing from 2D triangles into almost any 3D object, promising significant promise for space travel applications. The research, recently published in Natural Machine Intelligenceprovides a compelling picture for the future of robotics.

“Our goal with Mori3 was to create a modular, origami-like robot that could be assembled and disassembled at will depending on the environment and task at hand,” said Jamie Paik, director of the Configurable Robotics Lab. He continued, “Mori3 can change its size, shape, and function.”

Understanding Robot Mori3: The Power of Polygon Splicing

The Mori3 robot consists of individual modules, each shaped like a triangle. These modules are connected seamlessly to form polygons of various sizes and configurations, a procedure known as polygon stitching. Christoph Belke, a post-doctoral researcher in robotics, comments, “We have shown that polygon splicing is a viable robotic strategy.”

Achieving this breakthrough requires pushing the boundaries of many aspects of robotics, including mechanical and electronic design, computer systems, and engineering. “We had to rethink the way we understand robotics,” explains Belke. “These robots can deform themselves, attach to each other, communicate, and reconfigure to form functional and articulate structures.” The proof of concept was seen as a success as the Mori3 robot demonstrated proficiency in key robotic capabilities: mobility, object handling and transport, and user interaction.

Space Exploration: The New Frontier for Modular Robots

Modular and multifunctional robots such as Mori3 provide significant advantages, especially in performing a variety of tasks, which often require deformation or configuration changes. Paik explains, “Polygonal and polymorphic robots that connect with each other to create articulated structures can be used effectively for a wide variety of applications.”

He also acknowledged that general-purpose robots such as Mori3 may be less effective than specialized robots in certain domains. “That said, the Mori3’s biggest selling point is its versatility,” says Paik. The designers envisioned the Mori3 robot being used in spacecraft, which lacked space to accommodate different robots for each individual task. The researchers harbor hopes of seeing the Mori3 robot used for external communications and repair purposes in space missions.

Innovative Leap in Robotics

The development of Mori3 heralds a monumental shift in the field of robotics, highlighting the possibilities that lie ahead in modular robotics. The unique blend of digital and biological inspiration has given rise to a robot that can change its shape and function according to its tasks and environment, a feature that holds enormous potential, especially in space exploration.

However, as technology advances, it is important to ensure that the capabilities of such versatile robots are optimized, and their potential weaknesses are carefully managed. This innovative leap in robotics opens up many opportunities and questions, making it an exciting field to watch for years to come. As Mori3 hits the road, we can look forward to seeing how this pioneering technology will change the way we approach robotics and space exploration.


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