I’m not completely certain what problems this technology solves, but it is kind of cool, and at least a little bio-inspired.
Maria Yablonin’s Master’s project at The Institute for Computational Design (in Stuttgart) is a “Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures”.
The idea is inspired by spider webery, with simple robots stringing strands of fiber in intricate patterns to form a macro structure. The robots are small (compared to the structure), and operate autonomously (i.e., not piloted or explicitly programmed), using basic manipulations and a grammar of rules.
As I said, inspired by spiders.
Actually, the robots operate as a cooperative swarm, which most spiders don’t. Cooperation between two or more robots makes it possible to quickly make complex “braids”, and to hand off a thread to go around inside corners.
In this, they resemble human riggers.
The robots are kind of cool with specialized sensors and manipulators for this purpose. It’s hard to tell from the pictures exactly how they work, but they clearly are well designed for the task.
Looking at the demonstration veraions, I imagine scaling it up to quickly string up a tentlike structure, or to stabilize an earthen structure. Or scaling it down, could a tiny version be use to quickly bandage a wound, or, at microscopic scales, reinforce or patch damaged tissues with minimal surgery?