This article aims to provide details of recent developments in robots that can change shape and self-reconfigure.
Following an introduction, this article first describes some recent developments in shape-changing materials and then considers a selection of shape-changing robots. It then discusses self-reconfiguring robots and describes a unique self-unfolding robot. Finally, concluding comments are drawn.
This article shows that research into true shape-changing robots is still at an early stage and several very different strategies are being studied. Novel materials are expected to play a key role in many designs and potential applications include search and rescue, health care and surveillance. Self-reconfiguring modular robots are at a more advanced stage and while many can reconfigure to adopt varying shapes and gaits, the ability to accomplish differing tasks in manufacturing is still some way in the future. Overall, the various classes of shape-changing robots being studied represent a move towards a new era in robotic capabilities, but despite many recent technological advances, considerable further work is required before these become a practical reality.
This article provides an insight into recent technological advances in shape-changing and self-reconfiguring robots.