Discovery News – The Modular Robotics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, under the direction of Shai Revzen, has created a robot that can be assembled from foam that hardens and pieces that allow the robot to move. The “foambot” looks ungainly, and it is. But once you have a shape — and a task — in mind, the foam sprayer can lay down a body plan that fits.
Hard foam can be used to synthesise a body on-the-fly, allowing us to spray a body for this quadruped. Each of the limbs comprises three CKBot modules, in a configuration similar to that used in the self-assembly after explosion project.
Foam synthesis uses our synthesiser cart, which is based on an off-the-shelf insulation foam, and a simple valve constructed from a spring-clamp. These are mounted on a moving platform constructed for the Mini-PR2 robot, which allows holonomic motion in the plane. Finally, an additional actuator allow the operator to control the elevation of the foam-spraying nozzle. A laser pointer is mounted to the nozzle to simplify aiming the foam spray.