Research Performed in Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab under Dr. Hod Lipson
Stochastic Modular Assembly Project Abstract:
Imagine thousands of little building blocks autonomously assembling into any shape you want; that’s the idea behind Programmable Matter: A substance that is able to change its physical properties (e.g. shape, stiffness, color) as directed by the user. Programmable Matter systems could have real-world advantages: Objects can be assembled or repaired on-the-fly, and deconstructed to be recycled into new objects once they are no longer needed. Programmable matter would open up new possibilities for rapid prototyping, space exploration, sustainable technology, and evolutionary design. Our approach to programmable matter involves the assembly of components with embeded electronics by manipulating the flow of fluid through an assembly chamber. The fluidic environment makes this approach inherently stochastic.
You can learn more about the details of this project on the Cornell Creative Machines Lab Website.
What is my Role on this Research?
Programmable matter is a highly interdisciplinary research endeavor, requiring mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, as well is as a comprehensive knowledge of stochastic processes & fluid dynamics. I focused on the development of electrical systems for the project, as well as the creation of C-based firmware for use in a communication protocol between individual system components. I designed and built a base station to permit control and querying of the cubes via computer interface. In our programmable matter system, each “building block” consisted of 6 rigid inner circuit boards for controlling a fluid-flow valve, a single flexible circuit board for the microcontroller and communication circuitry, and rigid outer boards with a connection interface for making a mechanical and electrical connection with other building blocks. I completed the design and fabrication of the flexible circuit board, and developed a testing scheme for testing the robustness of a mesh-networked communication scheme developed by me and another researcher.
Stochastic Modular Assembly News Coverage:
- 11/21/2011 – The Research Paper: “Designing Nature-Inspired Smart Nanobots” (PDF)