Dtto modular robot
A number of Dtto modules connected mechanically and acting as a single robot.
A 3D-printed modular robot was this week named the winner of the 2016 Hackaday Prize.
Dtto was built by Alberto Molina Perez, with search and rescue missions in natural disaster situations in mind.
In addition to the prestigious award, Dtto will receive the grand prize of $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, CA.
The self-configurable robot can adopt any shape simply by changing the position of its 3D-printed modules. It was inspired by a famous Bruce Lee quote: “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup. It becomes the cup.”
In most natural disaster situations, there are cases of people being trapped without being able to get to safety themselves. Most of the search and rescue operations are carried out by other humans, needing a lot of specialised manpower and hours of work to look for possible survivors.
Robots, such as the Dtto, have the potential to act as a scout, able to navigate, adapt and perceive. This not only increases the chance of human life being found among rubble, but also removes the need for human search and rescuers to scout in dangerous areas.
Inspired by how fire ants’ colonies work, the Dtto was designed with a specific focus on adaptability. A number of modules, or small robots, have the ability to find each other, connect mechanically and collaborate to act as a single robot, creating a collective intelligence. The advantage of being all modules the same is that, if one of them is damaged or stops working, it can easily be replaced by another one, creating something similar to a self-healing structure.
By changing its configuration, the Dtto robot can move like a snake through a small pipeline, transform into a wheel-like robot to move faster, then change to a centipede shaped robot where there is no vertical space and finally build a bridge to get to the other side of a hanging floor.
The robot is designed to contain most of the electronics and motors in one half of its anatomy. This means there is free space in the other half, where a thermal camera, microphone and speakers, multiple sensors or more batteries could be implemented depending on the mission of the Dtto.
The Hackaday Prize is a competition synonymous with creating for social change. Using hardware, coding, scientific, design and mechanical abilities, the creation should be able to make big changes in peoples' lives.