Robotic blocks can morph into any type of furniture

I live in a 350 square foot apartment. As a result, my small dining table doubles as a kitchen prep area and a stool works overtime as a laptop stand and side table. It works, but it’s not perfect, and there are days where I would kill for a kitchen island to make cooking a little bit easier.

Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland have come up with the ultimate solution for flexible furniture: 8.5 inch wide cubes called Roombots that can self-assemble into any shape, including chairs and tables. The team believes they could be used in the home and conference centers, but also to aid people with limited mobility who might otherwise not be able to move a large piece of furniture.

“Eventually, all you’ll need to do is program the layout of a bedroom or a conference room, then let the modules do the work,” project lead Auke Ijspeert said in a release.

The robots use hooks to latch onto holes on other Roombots, allowing them to form a larger structure. The cubes are split down the middle and each half can move independently, allowing the Roombots to turn into wheels. They can attach to a box or other complete piece of completed furniture and move it.


The research team still needs to finalize the robots’ software and increase their speed. The researchers are also working on exactly how users will interact with Roombots; one solution is to let people draw the design of a room on a tablet.