Some compare this robot to a spider, others a silkworm. However you look at it slowly and serenely weaving together a web or cocoon, it may just leave you with a bit of a disconcerted feeling.
Developed by the Mediated Matter group at MIT's Media Lab, the robot is expected to someday be able to scan its environment and someday weave a structure that would be appropriate for the space. Watch the robot at work:
For now, the robot is programmed to know where all the pegs on which it can weave are located. Someday, the team hopes it will be autonomous. CNET has more:
The researchers, who also study 3D printing, drop phrases like "additive manufacturing processes" and say that eventually they'll replace the yarn shown in the video with nylon that will harden once it's put in place. One can imagine manufacturing or construction methods that involve a machine that works with a given physical framework to create custom designs. "We're working on the sensing so it knows where it's going on its own," Research Assistant Elizabeth Tsai says in a short article by Barber.
With these expectations for independent, autonomous movement, CNET writes what we're all thinking: that this sounds like a pretty nightmarish scenario:
Robots that can learn to hunt? Robots that move like spiders? Robots that can autonomously spin webs?
Popular Science takes a bit more of an optimistic approach, seeing it as optimizing its own space. What are your feelings toward it?