BILL-E is a caterpillar robot 🐛, built by MIT. It has a small arm, with a hinge at the middle that gives the robot its signature inchworm-like gait and the capability to grab and move “blocks”.
In the laboratory the robot is able to build complex structures assembling lightweight lattice “blocks” this is an experiment for a hypothetical bigger version capable of building houses autonomously.
BILL-E caterpillar robot is able to navigate 3D space without a complex system of cameras, sensors and algorithms. Instead, it can keep track of its position by simply counting its steps on whatever structure it’s tasked with building.
It is also more affordable than specialised robots you see at factories, while also being more capable in different tasks and with higher mobility.
The software allows multiple BILL-E units to build a structure together in collaboration. Another benefit of the system is how easy it makes repairs. To fix something it built, the robot can replace any broken or damaged blocks with new ones.
An application can be usage in space stations for example where multiple BILL-E units could “live” on the structure, moving to repair it as needed.