MORPHs Roam The Park Looking For Children To Play
MORPHs Roam The Park Looking For Children To Play
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Sunday, 02 August 2015

We have to admit that this particular robot simply tickled our collective funny bone - but could there also be something sinister in this animated climbing frame?

Robots, taken at the widest interpretation of an active mechanism with some computer control, are getting cheaper all the time. This means you can start to think of using them for non-essential things like - fun and art. 

 

morphs

 

The MORPH - Mobile Reconfigurable Polyhedron - is the creation of William Bondin, Francois Mangion and Ruairi Glynn from the  Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and it is very strange to watch in motion. The octahedral robot has twelve actuated struts and moves by changing their length so as to overtopple in a determined direction.  

"Their intent is not only to provide a dynamic and playful environment for play areas within public parks, but also to encourage younger generations to engage with computational technology from an early age."

Let loose in a park a morph is free to roam around finding people to play with it. It resembles a mobile climbing frame and the idea that it might pursue small children and insist that they play with it is both amusing and spooky. Just wait until it manages to trap a small child in its actuators!

 

 

Being more serious, the idea is that this movement is slow and predictable and so even small children can learn to interact with it safely. A set of touch sensors can be used to guide the morph to a new location and it has WiFi and GPS which can be used to restrict it to given region.  I suppose that at least means you don't have to go looking for your morphs as the park is about to close. 

"If it is lifted off the ground, the pressure sensor readings from the joints resting on the ground will drop significantly. This will not only confuse the robot about its orientation with respect to the ground, but also indicate that someone is trying to steal it. One can also detect this by comparing GPS co-ordinates. Any of these will result in the robot playing a repetitive loud noise, in order to attract the attention of nearby park wardens or passers-by. Although we envisage this as a partially-autonomous robotic structure, it will always rely on human resources for policing, maintenance, etc."

 

There are plans for a bigger version:

"The current prototype is around 1.5 meters high and can withstand an imposed load of 30 kilograms. We are currently developing a second version which will be twice the height and will have a higher loading capability. "

Now that will really be an autonomous roving climbing frame!

Let us hope it doesn't go rogue.

I, for one, welcome our robotic climbing frame overlords...

More Information

Morphs 2.0

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 August 2015 )
 
 

   
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