Decibot & Macrobot

Skylar Tibbits, presented the Decibot along side the rest of the *bot family, from Neil Gershenfeld's Center for Bits and Atoms milli-biology project, at DARPA's InfoChemistry conference under the category of Programmable Matter, Oct. 2009.

The DeciBot is the largest of the motein family of programmable matter 1D folding chains with overall dimensions of 144″x18″x18″ unfolded and 36″x36″x36″ when
folded into a cube. The unit geometry, similar to the rest of the motein family, utilizes the hexagonally bisected cube connected in a linear chain. The MacroBot is the predecessor to the DeciBot with overall dimensions of 110”x11”x11” unfolded and 22”x22”x22” when folded into a cube. The DeciBot and MacroBot systems contain electromechanical actuation at each node allowing 360 degree rotation and three positions of discrete alignment (-120,0,120). Each node contains hard-wired communication to neighboring nodes, joint angle sensors to detect position and direction of rotation as well as turntable bearings and an aluminum shell. The chains can fold from any 1-dimensional configuration into 2 and 3-dimensional shapes through a sequence of joint angles that are passed through the chain. Each unit communicates down the chain to find its current position, then receives the message of angle sequences, moves to the designated angle with relation to its current position and passes the message to its neighbor. The reconfiguration can be done sequentially or nodes can move simultaneously along the chain.

Project Team

Neil Gershenfeld, Ara Knaian, Peter Schmidt-Nielsen, Skylar Tibbits, Kenny Cheung, Max Lobovsky, Asa Oines, Erik Demaine, Jonathan Bachrach, Scott Greenwald, Forrest Green, David Dalrymple, Steffen Reichert, Jonathan Ward, Keywon Chung, Taro Narahara, Ilan Moyer.


Neil Gershenfeld & The Center for Bits and Atoms