Fancy being able to create furniture at will? Well the researchers at the Biorobotics Laboratory of Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EFPL) have come up with what they call Roombots.
Up close they don't seem to look like much but these little modular robots are 3D reconfigurable - they can change shape and then attach or detach themselves from other modules. What we're looking at is furniture that is truly adaptive. You can change their shape or configuration as needed, meaning that instead of being stuck with a chair, that chair could become a table. Maybe someday, when you need it, it could be a footstool.
Besides being the equivalent of furniture lego, Roombots could perhaps someday also move around the room to where you need them. So instead of walking to your table, your table will walk to you. Pretty crazy stuff. And when you don't need the furniture, you could tell it to change shape and stay static, become a wall even.
Apart from taking the pain out of furniture assembly, Roombots could be helpful to people with limited mobility, like the disabled, infirm or elderly. The researchers are currently tweaking the robotic furniture to interact with users, even monitoring their health, helping them recover from falls and even provide assistance for them to move and manipulate objects.
So Roombots could prove highly adaptible, repurposable for different needs in different situation. Imagine how much easier moving house would be when you can just tell the furniture to pack and unpack itself. Stuffing a bunch of modular roombots into a box is infinitely easier than trying to pack, for instance, a table or chair. Pack the roombots in a box and suddenly a living room set can fit into the back of your car instead of you needing a moving van.