Centimeter-scaled Self-Assembly: A Preliminary Study

Martin Jílek, Miroslav Kulich, Libor Přeučil

Abstract

Passive self-assembly represents a general kind of bottom-up assembly process for objects, where the assembling particles exhibit no explicit, active ”sense and affect” featuring, but embedded properties only. Although the majority of the previous work in the field has been performed on a microscopic scale, in the field of chemistry and nanotechnology, we identify a strong relation to macroscopic cases and principles studied in robotics. We show that passive self-assembly processes might be promising also towards the development of new, completely passive (multi)robot systems, driven entirely by environmental perturbations. This work sketches insight into fundamental principles of driving a centimeter-scale self-assembly system while observing the behavior of single particles. Investigations show, that not all the principles previously studied in the microscopic scale do hold also in the macroscopic cases of centimeter-scale particles. Thus, this article proposes the macroscopic problem specification and an experimental self-assembly system design consisting of entirely passive elements. We tackle a theoretical description of the system model and the necessary simplification towards a two-handed tile assembly model (2HAM) together with real-world experimentation design. We evaluate experimental results, discuss the feasibility of shake-driven macroscopic self-assembly, and elaborate their major properties together with estimated future work.

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