Robotics: Science and Systems XVII

Falling Into Place: Drop Assembly of Interlocking Puzzles

Amy Sniffen, Zezhou Sun, Samuel E Lensgraf, Emily Whiting, Alberto Quattrini Li, Devin Balkcom


This paper explores a system for assembling structures by dropping block components into place. During and after assembly; the blocks are held together by geometric interlock; so that fasteners or mortar are only needed to bind the final block to one of its neighbors. Drop assembly is a promising strategy for assembly by swimming or flying robots; as it may allow structures to be built without requiring close contact with the existing structure. The current paper explores a mathematical model of interlock; and presents a particular block design that allows interlock to be achieved using only gravity. Proof-of-concept demonstrations of the system are presented using a low-cost and relatively low-precision robot arm. The paper finally analyzes some of the potential limitations of the approach; particularly including flexing of the structure due to manufacturing tolerance limitations.



    AUTHOR    = {Amy Sniffen AND Zezhou Sun AND Samuel E Lensgraf AND Emily Whiting AND Alberto Quattrini Li AND Devin Balkcom}, 
    TITLE     = {{Falling Into Place: Drop Assembly of Interlocking Puzzles}}, 
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems}, 
    YEAR      = {2021}, 
    ADDRESS   = {Virtual}, 
    MONTH     = {July}, 
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2021.XVII.055}