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This crazy new shape-shifting robot might be headed to the Moon

Published Jun 14th, 2023 3:33PM EDT
Mori3 shape-shifting robot swarm

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A shape-shifting robot swarm could make the trip to the Moon with future astronaut missions. The robot, which is called the Mori Modular Robot for Space, or Mori3, is a polygonal shape-shifting robot built by researchers at EPFL. It’s the first in the world of modular robotics, the creators claim, and it can change shape, move around, and even interact with people and objects.

When separated, the Mori3 doesn’t look like much. However, when you create a swarm of these little modular robots, you’re able to turn them into something much more. According to the creators, the Mori3 operates almost autonomously, with the ability to interact with objects also tying into its ability to communicate with one another to form functional structures.

Christoph Belke, one of the researchers involved with the shape-shifting robots, shared that the team had to rethink how they approached robotics to create the Mori3. That’s why they decided to go with one that relied on polygon meshing, a statement from the group explains.

A YouTube video showing the robot swarm in action can be seen embedded above. When in use, the Mori3 looks pretty similar to just about any other robotic system we’ve seen in recent years. It’s designed to fit into spacecraft and can perform basic activities. The creators say that while it very well could help out on future missions to the Moon, like Artemis III, it isn’t designed for sophisticated tasks.

Still, that leaves a lot of room to find a use for it in space, especially if it can help astronauts at all. The Artemis missions plan to put human boots on the Moon, and even possibly begin establishing the foundations of long-term colonization on the lunar surface, at least as a jumping point for future space missions. Having a shape-shifting robot swarm to help on the journey isn’t a bad idea, and right now, Mori3’s biggest selling point is the versatility it brings to the table, the creators say.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.