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Platform one Researchers at EPFL’s School of Engineering in Switzerland have created an origami-like robot that can change shape for use in space systems (writes Nick Flaherty). The Mori3 combines polygon meshing and swarm behaviour to morph from 2D triangles into almost any 3D object. The research shows the promise of modular robotics for space systems that don’t have the room to store different robots for each task that needs to be carried out. The researchers hope the robot will be used for communication purposes and external repairs. “We have shown that polygon meshing is a viable robotics strategy,” said Christoph Belke, a post-doctoral robotics researcher at EPFL. To achieve this, the team had to push the boundaries of various aspects of robotics, including the mechanical and electronic design, computer systems and engineering. “The robots can change their own shape, attach to each other, communicate and reconfigure to form functional and articulated structures,” Belke said. Space vehicles The shape of things? Dr Donough Wilson Dr Wilson is innovation lead at aviation, defence, and homeland security innovation consultants, VIVID/ futureVision. His defence innovations include the cockpit vision system that protects military aircrew from asymmetric high-energy laser attack. He was first to propose the automatic tracking and satellite download of airliner black box and cockpit voice recorder data in the event of an airliner’s unplanned excursion from its assigned flight level or track. For his ‘outstanding and practical contribution to the safer operation of aircraft’ he was awarded The Sir James Martin Award 2018/19, by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. Paul Weighell Paul has been involved with electronics, computer design and programming since 1966. He has worked in the realtime and failsafe data acquisition and automation industry using mainframes, minis, micros and cloud-based hardware on applications as diverse as defence, Siberian gas pipeline control, UK nuclear power, robotics, the Thames Barrier, Formula One and automated financial trading systems. Ian Williams-Wynn Ian has been involved with uncrewed and autonomous systems for more than 20 years. He started his career in the military, working with early prototype uncrewed systems and exploiting imagery from a range of systems from global suppliers. He has also been involved in ground-breaking research including novel power and propulsion systems, sensor technologies, communications, avionics and physical platforms. His experience covers a broad spectrum of domains from space, air, maritime and ground, and in both defence and civil applications including, more recently, connected autonomous cars. Professor James Scanlan Professor Scanlan is the director of the Strategic Research Centre in Autonomous Systems at the University of Southampton, in the UK. He also co-directs the Rolls-Royce University Technical Centre in design at Southampton. He has an interest in design research, and in particular how complex systems (especially aerospace systems) can be optimised. More recently, he established a group at Southampton that undertakes research into uncrewed aircraft systems. He produced the world’s first ‘printed aircraft’, the SULSA, which was flown by the Royal Navy in the Antarctic in 2016. He also led the team that developed the ULTRA platform, the largest UK commercial UAV, which has flown BVLOS extensively in the UK. He is a qualified full-size aircraft pilot and also has UAV flight qualifications. Dr David Barrett Dr David Barrett’s career includes senior positions with companies such as iRobot and Walt Disney Imagineering. He has also held posts with research institutions including the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, MIT and Olin College, where he is now Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, and Principal Investigator for the Olin Intelligent Vehicle Laboratory. He also serves in an advisory capacity on the boards of several robotics companies. Uncrewed Systems Technology’s consultants 17 Uncrewed Systems Technology | August/September 2023 The Mori3 can morph from 2D triangles into almost any 3D object