MoMar -LookingOutwards04


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Claytronics is a physical computing concept that combines nano-scale robotics and Computer Science. It is a programmable matter which is being developed and researched at Carnegie Mellon University by Professors Seth Goldstein and Todd C. Mowry, as well as graduate, undergraduate students in collaboration with Intel Labs.

Claytronics is a collection of solid-state components called catoms which attract each other to create objects. Modern catoms (as of 2009), attract each other using electromagnets. Magnets, however, don't work too well on the microscopic scale so they are looking at other possibilities such as electrostatic attraction.

The research team focuses on two main projects:

  • Creating basic catons.
  • To enable this, we adopt a design principle which we term the ensemble axiom: a robot should include only enough functionality to contribute to the desired functionality of the ensemble

  • Designing and writing 3D software to manipulate catons
  • Millions of sub-millimeter
    robot modules each able to emit variable color and
    intensity light will enable dynamic physical rendering
    systems, in which a robot ensemble can simulate arbitrary
    3D scenes and models

In the future, artists using claytronics would be able to create plays/movies using fake people. A popular idea is a 3D fax machine which scans the inputted object and "prints" the same object using the programmable matter on the other end. Robots and other items that break can fix themselves by just reforming into their programmed shape (i.e. T-1000 from Terminator 2).

Such systems could have many
applications, such as telepresence, human-computer
interface, and entertainment.


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