Scientists have created a transforming robot that can transport cargo, interact with people, and change shape and size. This makes it a promising development for future space missions, writes Vice.
It is a polygon robot Mori3, which consists of triangular modules. They connect to each other to form 3D meshes that can create a variety of structures tailored to specific tasks and environments.
Mori3 was developed by a team led by roboticists Christoph Belke and Jamie Paik from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, with financial support from the European Space Agency (ESA).
According to a study published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, the robot demonstrates how a physical polygonal mesh provides a new foundation for more versatile intelligent machines.
“Physical polygon meshing opens up new avenues for future robotic systems and has the capacity to transform anything from space missions, where the use of multiple single-purpose systems is not feasible, to interactive and assistive personal devices,” the researchers explain.
While Mori3 is not exclusively intended for space applications, its modular nature and transformability could offer some key advantages for missions beyond Earth. For example, one day Mori3 may support the space communications infrastructure or perform repair work on the outer sections of spacecraft.
Given the high cost of launching cargo and humans into space, mission planners are always looking for ways to optimize space and weight during extraterrestrial flights. This challenge will be compounded by efforts to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon or, eventually, such as Mars.
By the way, recently the companies Impulse Space and Relativity Space announced plans to launch first commercial mission to Mars in 2026. The idea of launching a mission is not new for them. The company announced such intentions last year, but then the mission was being prepared for launch at the end of 2024. Those plans have now been put on hold for two years, and the reasons for the delay have not been disclosed.