Reconfiguration by Self-Disassembly

The Miche system is a collection of robots that, starting from an amorphous arrangement, can be assembled into arbitrary shapes and then commanded to self-disassemble in an organized manner. Much like a sculptor would remove the extra stone from a block of marble to reveal a statue, the Miche system, (short for Michelangelo), eliminates unnecessary modules to form a goal structure. Shape formation with Miche modules proceeds as follows. First, an initial amorphous shape is assembled by hand. The modules in this initial structure use local communication to establish their location within a system of coordinates. After the initial configuration has been assembled, the user provides a goal shape for the system. Using local communication, the group cooperates to distribute this information so that all modules know whether to remain as a part of the system or to extricate themselves. Finally, the unnecessary modules disconnect from the system and drop off to create the desired shape.