Modular robots work together to create futuristic furniture

Credit: EPFL

Evil-minded robot tendrils snaking their way across your living room floor in the middle of the night could easily be the beginning of a sci-fi horror film. If, on the other hand, these winding robot snakes were simply arranging your furniture, you might not view them so harshly. Imagine this in the near future: robots live among us and space is at an all-time premium. To take advantage of your cramped, future living space you snap up a crate of Roombots, the modular robots that also happen to be all the furniture you'll ever need.

Each Roombot is comprised of two connected spheres and four motors. By teaming up with their brethren, the Roombots can either move your existing furniture into new configurations or simply build themselves into the chair or table you need. The Roombots can hold whatever shape you tell them to for as long as you like once they're connected either to each other or to LEGO-like passive furniture elements. When you're through with them, you can simply command them to retreat into their box or to transform into something new.

Beyond their space-saving nature, the creators of the Roombots also see them as robot assistants for the elderly. Embedded with health-monitoring sensors, the Roombots could keep track of the vitals of anybody sitting on them. They could also detect when their owner suffers a fall and roll over to help, whether that means getting you back on your feet, calling the paramedics, or both.

The Roombots are already rolling themselves around the lab, but their robo-brains are still very much in the works. When they're finished, we could find ourselves in a world where our furniture itself is not only automated, but looking out for our best interests.

EPFL, via Motherboard

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