To create matter analogous to a bag of smart sand or stack of smart paper that will be light and compact and which configures itself into a desired form as needed.

Programmable matter will be achieved using the paradigm of physically connected small robotic modules which can autonomously reconfigure into a desired goal shape. This will enable warfighters to create parts (e.g. wrench, antenna, bench, cup, tripod, splint) on demand. When use is completed, the same material is reconfigured to make new parts with different shapes and functionalities, thus minimizing the overall load on the warfighter. The ability to make generically what is needed, when it is needed, is a ground-breaking leap forward in equipping warfighters for warfare scenarios because the packing list is simplified, the load lightened, and the capabilities increased. Areas of application include construction assembly and repair on the battlefield, the creation of temporary structural support for logistics, adaptive and interchangeable tooling for human assistance, and active formation of sensors, communication, and actuator arrays.

For more information on modular self-disassembly please visit the Distributed Robotics Lab pages.

Making two shapes by subtraction (a table and a dog) from the same initial bag of parts. Each module is an autonomous cube-shaped robot which measures 4cm on each side.

A wrench and a bench created by origami folding from the same sheet of paper.