This swarm of robots ‘spins’ tubular fibreglass structures

Fiberbots, a project of researchers of the Mediated Matter Group of MIT, is a digital fabrication platform fusing cooperative robotic manufacturing with abilities to generate sophisticated material architectures.

The researchers took a page from nature’s book. Some of the most successful organisms collaborate in swarms, while nature’s builders create structures to control and optimise multiple material properties. Spiders, for instance, spin protein fibres to make their webs, adjusting the material composition and placement to create strong yet flexible structures. Swarming organisms like bees, ants and termites cooperate to rapidly build structures stronger than themselves.

The Fiberbots combine the best of both worlds. They are a swarm of robots designed to wind fibreglass filament around themselves to create high-strength tubular structures. The robots each work on one tube at the time, but all simultaneously. The robots are mobile, using sensor feedback to control the length and curvature of each tube. The custom, environmentally informed, flocking-based design protocol provides designers to control

The 16 robots and the system to control them were developed by the Mediated Matter Group and used to autonomously create a 4.5-metre-tall (15 feet) structure. The structure remained outside and undamaged throughout the winter months, demonstrating the project’s potential.

Photos: The Mediated Matter Group