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Roombots: Lego-like robotic blocks that transform into furniture (video)

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Imagine if you can just snap your fingers or issue a verbal command for a table, a chair or any other furniture to assemble right in front of you. That's what a team of researchers from the Swiss Biorobotics Laboratory (BioRob) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) hopes to achieve by developing Lego-like robotic blocks called Roombots that can stick to each other and form different structures. Each Roombot is made up of two blocks with wireless connection and a battery that powers motors, which the robot uses to rotate into place. These blocks also have retractable claws so anything you conjure up can climb walls and ceilings or stay attached to floors. The researchers believe that Roombots could be very useful to the elderly and people with disabilities, as they could eventually tell the machines to move closer to them or move out of the way.

For now, though, the team still needs to figure out how users can control the robots -- while voice or gesture command would be ideal, the team's looking at using software made for tablets at the moment. They still also need to smooth out the robots' movements, tweak their algorithm and make sure they work together better first before your can fill your homes with reconfigurable furniture.

In this article: furniture, robotics, Roombot, switzerland
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