Biorobotics Laboratory BioRob

Study of new Roombots modules
Simon Blanchoud - Semester Project 2006-2007
Supervisor: Prof. Auke jan Ijspeert
Assistant: Dr. Masoud Asadpour


The Roombots project is a very vaste project: its goal is to create self-reconfigurable furniture using modular robotic. The main idea of the modular robotic is to have many modules that cooperate together in order to create a complex global behavior, or structure in our case. This project is a collaboration between Microsoft Research Cambridge and the Biologically Inspired Robotics Group (BIRG).

The main goal of this project was to develop a new module that could be used for reconfiguration in the Roombotsproject. This project focused on the suitable capabilities of the modules and not on their hardware implementation; it was developped entirely in simulation.


Report of the project along with the simulation files (BZ2, 1.0 MB)
Slides of the presentation (PDF, 483 KB)

The Modules

Five cube-like modules with different characteristics were tested : Cube1, Cube2, Cube3, Cube4 and Cube5.

The Tests

Five tests were used in order to be able to rank the modules :

T1: The module should move straight forward
T2: The module should turn 90° left
T3: The module should turn 90° right
T4: The module should turn 90° up
T5: The module should turn 90°down

These tests were performed in two different environments that reflect the possible ones the modules could encounter :

Passive Structure: The modules are moving on a ground which does not have any servo, so they have to move totally by themselves
Active Structure: The modules are moving on a structure made out of other modules that help them as much as possible


After these tests, I analyzed more closely the most promising module : Cube2. This allowed me to find the macro-movements of this module on active structures :

M1: Move on our own to a side module
M2: Move on our own from a face to another one
M3: Move another module from a side module onto ourselves
M4: Move another module from ourself onto a side module
M5: Move another module from a face to another one


Passive Structure
Cube2 turning right (3.9 MB)
Cube3 moving down (2.9 MB)

Active Structure
Cube1 moving up using a loading module (1.7 MB)
Cube1 moving down using a loading module (1.1 MB)

Cube2 starting to build a stool (8.9 MB)


Design and simulation of locomotion of self-organising modular robots for adaptive furniture