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Building Blocks for Multi-Robot Construction



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Building Blocks for Multi Robot Construction Justin Werfel Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA USA jkwerfel mit edu Summary One notable capability of social insect colonies that has traditionally inspired distributed robot systems is their construction activity In this paper I describe a system of simple identical autonomous robots able to build two dimensional structures of arbitrary design by rearranging blocks of building material into desired shapes Structure design is specified compactly as a high level geometric program robots translate this program into physical form via their fixed behavioral programming Robots are interchangeable both within and between construction projects and need not be individually reprogrammed between dissimilar projects Such a construction team could be used as the first stage in a system for remote building of structures laying out the floor plan that a more sophisticated system could extend upwards 1 Introduction A primary inspiration for distributed multi robot systems is the set of orders of social insects notably ants termites and bees whose swarms or colonies accomplish many complex high level tasks through the collective actions of lower level agents One of the most characteristic of these tasks is the robust construction of large scale complicated structures despite the insects own small size and limited complexity A corresponding research pursuit is the engineering of multi robot systems that build specific desired structures while retaining advantageous features of the insect systems that inspire them flexibility robustness etc The possible uses for structurebuilding teams of robots are many and far ranging from automating the production of low cost housing to allowing construction and related activities in settings where human presence is dangerous or problematic This latter class in turn ranges from uses in disaster areas to the construction of first stage bases of operations to await the arrival of



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