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Robotic Garden (March 2009)
Our long-term goal is to develop an autonomous green house consisting of autonomous robots where pots and plants are enhanced with computation, sensing, and communication. The network of robots, pots, and plants transforms energy, water and nutrients into produce and fruits. In this type of precision agriculture system water and nutrients will be delivered locally on-demand and fruit will be harvested optimally. Plants will drive the robots' activities in the garden using sensors to monitor their local environment conditions, a plant-specific model of growth for making predictions about the state of fruit, and interaction with robots for establishing an inventory of fruit.
Quadruped Locomotion on Rough Terrain with LittleDog
The following videos show highlights from our work on LittleDog - a small quadrupedal robot built by Boston Dynamics for the DARPA Learning Locomotion program.
AMOUR: Autonomous Modular Optical Underwater Robot
We designed, developed and deployed an underwater sensor network capable of multi-modal perception, dual communications and mobility in the ocean. The hardware consists of static sensor network nodes and mobile robots that are dually networked: optically for point-to-point transmission at 300kb/s and acoustically for broadcast communication over hundreds of meters range at 300b/s. We have demonstrated the system during experiments with this system in the ocean, in rivers, and in lakes.
Shady: A Truss Climbing Window Shade
We work in the Stata Center at MIT in a room with a large wall-window which currently has no shades. As many of our desks are directly next to this window we needed some means to block the light from hitting our computer screens. Instead of traditional shades which would block the whole window, detracting from the view, we have decided to build a robot which can climb on the window's aluminum frame. It can thus be positioned on the window to be a localized sunshade. Shady is fun, but it's there's also some serious robotics research here. While many climbing robots have been developed, only a few climb on thin-member truss-like structures.
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.
Shady3D: Self-Assembling Robot
This research introduces the concept of modular robots to reconcile this trade-off. Instead of a single, full-degree-of-freedom robot, multiple simpler modules can be used. A single module has fewer degrees of freedom than required for complete 3-D motion, but it can move in a 2-D plane and reach a goal position in many cases. If complete 3-D motion is necessary, multiple modules can connect to and cooperate with each other to reach a goal position and orientation. The robot we present is the extension of a specific truss-climbing application our group has been working on: window shading. This 2-D Shady robot concept has been extended to a 3-D truss climbing modular robot system called Shady3D The design of the 2-D Shady robot has been modified to be able to escape from a 2-D plane.