GRASP Lab’s coolest robot yet

Mark Yim, Asa Whitney Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has seen any number of innovative robots walk, fly, hop, roll and otherwise propel themselves about the GRASP Lab, where he serves as Ruzena Bajcsy Director. But the lab’s latest creation is, quite literally, its coolest yet: it’s made out of ice.

A robot made of blocks of ice on a table.
IceBot’s structural components are made out of ice, which could be cut and shaped to specification in remote environments. (Image: Penn Engineering Today)

ModLab, Yim’s own group within the GRASP Lab, focuses on modular robotic systems. These robots can reconfigure themselves on the fly to adapt to new environments or tasks. Some are composed of identical units that can link up in different ways, such as the flying ModQuads or rolling SMORES-EP, but what happens when those units are themselves not suited to a given job?

Working alongside Yim, graduate student and ModLab member Devin Carroll recently proposed an innovative solution: making those units out of blocks of ice. Such a robot could be deployed to the antarctic or even an icy extraterrestrial planet, two places where custom parts or repairs would be especially hard to come by.

Read more at Penn Engineering Today.