The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | May 2 2008

Robotics Institute Seminar, May 2, 2008
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Building Bodies and Brains for Programmable Matter



Daniela Rus

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab


Time and Place


Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305 )

Time: 3:30 to 4:30 pm




We wish to create programmable matter by using smart modules capable of self-reconfiguration: hundreds of small modules autonomously organize and reorganize as geometric structures to best fit the terrain on which the robot has to move, the shape of the object the robot has to manipulate, or the sensing needs for the given task. Large collections of small robot modules actively organize as the most optimal geometric structure to perform useful coordinated work.

A self-reconfiguring robot consists of a set of modules that can dynamically and autonomously reconfigure in a variety of shapes, to best fit the terrain, environment, and task. Self-reconfiguration leads to versatile robots that can support multiple modalities of locomotion, manipulation, and perception.

This talk will discuss the challenges of creating programmable matter, ranging from designing hardware capable of self-reconfiguration, to developing distributed controllers and planners for such systems that are scalable, adaptive, and support real-time behavior. We will discuss a spectrum of mechanical and computational capabilities for such system and detail two recent robots developed for ground and underwater applications of programmable matter.


Speaker Biography


Daniela Rus is a professor in the EECS Department at MIT and Associate Director of CSAIL. She is the co-director of the CSAIL Center for Robotics. Previously, she was a professor in the computer science department at Dartmouth College. She holds a PhD degree in computer science form Cornell University. Her research interests include distributed robotics, mobile computing, and self-organization. She was the recipient of an NSF Career award and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship. She is a class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow.


Speaker Appointments


For appointments, please contact Mettin Sitti(

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.