Scaling the walls as if they're lead climbing, the two robots anchor a thick cord to metal bolts. They pass the cord back and forth as they go, weaving one beautifully creepy -- and strong -- web in the corner.
The bots are a University of Stuttgart design project created by artist and architect Maria Yablonina. It's a far cry from grandma's knitting session.
Yablonina's mobile robotic fabrication system for filament structures features two semi-autonomous bots working together to distribute thread. They climb walls using suction and sensing technology, and can construct a hammock-like web strong enough to support a person. Yablonina developed the project as part of her grad program at the University of Stuttgart's Institute for Computational Design.
Each bot contains pathfinding software to navigate walls and electromagnets that allow them to pass the bobbin to each other. They're also equipped with a wrapping mechanism so they can wind the cord around an anchor and have it stay in place.
"These robots are enabled with movement systems and a collection of sensors that allow them to travel and interact accurately along typical ground, walls, roofs, and ceilings," Yablonina explained in her project description. She envisions them being part of a "suitcase housing" scenario, where an operator lets the bots loose to construct a large structure onsite.
Yablonina was on the university team behind the Elytra Filament Pavilion, a robotically fabricated modular outdoor structure on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Since receiving her masters degree, she joined the software company Autodesk as an artist in residence. One recent project is a robot cut from a single sheet of material, folded into shape, and enabled by a single actuator.
Given her fascination with weird locomotion and robotics, I expect she's not done weaving webs quite yet. Meanwhile, check out her bots collaborating on a super-strong woven hammock here:
Originally published on Discovery News.