Researchers at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms have unveiled BILL-E (Bipedal Isotropic Lattice Locomoting Explorer), an assembler robot with awith a small hinged arm equipped with tools for clamping down on structures called “voxels”. These enable the robot to navigate 3D space without a complex system of cameras, sensors and algorithms, but by simply keeping track of its position counting its steps on whatever structure it’s tasked with building, sort of like a pixel in an image. Read more for a video and additional information.
Each robot can assigned a section of the build, picking, placing voxels and then connecting them together. As a team, a small group of these robots can quickly construct large objects, repair / remove / replace damaged portions of a structure, or even add new sections to existing builds.
That’s different from all other robots. It just need to know where its next step is. For a space station or a lunar habitat, these robots would live on the structure, continuously maintaining and repairing it,” said MIT researcher Benjamin Jenett.