The end of the designer and the facility manager?

At SourceYour | so you know better we like a bit of forward thinking. We are following the developments in 3D-printed furniture but what if this furniture could move, self-assemble, self-reconfigure and self-repair? Would we still need furniture designers or facility managers?

The project Roombots at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland intends to design and control modular robots to be used as building blocks for furniture that moves, self-assembles, self-reconfigures, and self-repairs.
Modular robots are robots made of multiple simple robotic modules that can attach and detach. Connectors between units allow the creation of arbitrary and changing structures depending on the task to be solved.

Roombots

The vision for Roombots is that they autonomously connect to each other to form different types of furniture, e.g. stools, chairs, sofas and tables, depending on user requirements. This furniture will change shape over time (e.g. a stool becoming a chair, a set of chairs becoming a sofa) as well as move using actuated joints to different locations depending on the users needs. When not needed, the group of modules can create a static structure such as a wall or a box.

In a basic animation you can see how Roombots would build up a back onto a chair.

Even though this is just a starting development and the execution is still pretty basic, we feel the possibilities of 3D-printing combined with smart software to make this self-(re)configuration and self-repair possible, will give the term ‘Next Life’ a completely new, and promising, dimension.

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