Cornell's Franz Nigl and Jeremy Blum demonstrate their truss-climbing robot in this video, which accompanies a paper accepted into IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine. The robot can climb and reconfigure the trusses in a 3D structure, redesigning a building on the fly, autonomously. It would be pretty cool to see a swarm of these running a genetic algorithm, dynamically redesigning a skyscraper.
This video presents a robot capable of autonomously traversing and manipulating a 3D truss structure. The robot is able to approach and traverse multiple structural joints using a combination of translational and rotational motions. A key factor in allowing reliable motion and engagements is the use of specially designed structural building blocks comprised of bidirectional geared rods. A set of traversal plans, each comprised of basic motion primitives, were analyzed for speed, robustness, and repeatability. Paths covering eight joints are demonstrated, as well as automatic element assembly and disassembly. We suggest that the robot architecture and truss module design, such as the one presented here, could open the door to robotically assembled, maintained, and reconfigured structures that would ordinarily be difficult, risky, or time consuming for humans to construct.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.