Penn robots go viral

A robot named “CKbot,” built by Penn engineers, has become a YouTube star.

Conceived by Penn Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Mark Yim and his colleagues at the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab, CKbot boasts a unique talent: It is capable of re-constructing itself after being demolished. The robot is built from 15 individual modules split into three clusters of five modules each. Each module is equipped with a 20-frames-per-second camera, a blinking LED, and an accelerometer that enables the robot to reconstruct itself using magnets. The modules also carry an embedded computer, proximity sensors and a motorized joint with a rotational range of 180 degrees.

In the hit YouTube video—which had been viewed nearly a half-million times by mid-June—CKbot is kicked over and broken into the three separate clusters. Then, bit by bit, the robot puts itself back together. CKbot’s success, the team says, is a small step forward for researchers working to create self-assembling robots.

The video can be viewed here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=uIn-sMq8-Ls&feature=user.

Originally published July 3, 2008

Originally published on July 3, 2008