ShapeBots swarm robots that stretch out their arms

ShapeBots are shape-changing swarm robots build by the researchers from University Of Colorado and University of Tokyo. The robots can both individually and collectively change their configuration to display information and perform tasks in collaboration.


Each robot can change its shape by leveraging small linear actuators that are thin (2.5 cm) and can extends to 20cm. The actuator is the most interesting part as it consisting of two spools of plastic tape that can extend and retract like a tape measure.


Each individual ShapeBots comes with small motors that allow it to drive around on a flat surface. The robots communicate with a host computer that tracks their positions using a camera, which continuously observes and give commands to the swarm robots.

ShapeBot’s components :

  •  x4 motors
  • pvc tape
  • 3d printed parts
  • ESP8266

[Official ShapeBots paper here]

The ShapeBots swarm robots are cheap and easy to build,  each can be build with around 25$ each.


ShapeBots can be employed as a tangible gaming platform. two users playing a table football gameusing two extended robots. The user controls a robot acting asthe pinball arms whose position and angle are synchronizedto a controller robot. Users hit or block a ball to target a goal,similar to table football.


NEXT: Robots are the Japan’s Olympics stars and This week in robotic : Tuna-robot and Smarticles


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