Abstract: Here we introduce one simulated and two physical three-dimensional stochastic modular robot systems, all capable of self-assembly and self-reconfiguration. We assume that individual units can only draw power when attached to the growing structure, and have no means of actuation. Instead they are subject to random motion induced by the surrounding medium when unattached. We present a simulation environment with a flexible scripting language that allows for parallel and serial self-assembly and self-reconfiguration processes. We explore factors that govern the rate of assembly and reconfiguration, and show that self-reconfiguration can be exploited to accelerate the assembly of a particular shape, as compared with static self-assembly. We then demonstrate the ability of two different physical three-dimensional stochastic modular robot systems to self-reconfigure in a fluid. The second physical implementation is only composed of technologies that could be scaled down to achieve stochastic self-assembly and self-reconfiguration at the microscale.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).