Tom Larkworthy

Edinburgh Hacklab, Pandara

Efficiency Through Gender, Simplicity and Limits
49 minutes, 22.7mb, recorded 2012-01-20
Tom Larkworthy

How does gender contribute to efficiency in self-reconfigurable robots? As Tom Larkworthy sees it, gendered connectors reduce hardware complexity because you put all the potentially active components on one side. Where data synthesis is the limiting factor in movement, gendered connections cut processing complexity. Limiting degrees of freedom is the key to efficiency.

The connector is the most critical, expensive component in self-reconfigurable robots. Recent successes in connector design show that modest goals are best because the overhead cost of modularity is so high.

In this in-person audio interview, Per Sjöborg visits with Larkworthy, to discuss connectors, planning costs, and finding the killer-app for robotics. In the end, they speculate that killer-app will be found in space exploration, where you need redundancy and reconfigurability, low-weight and small-size. Whatever the breakthrough app, Larkworthy expects different tracks of research to intersect soon and reach a critical momentum.

Tom Larkworthy is founder of Spetral Robotics. He is also currently a post doc researcher at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where he works at Pandora: Persistently Autonomous Robots. In 2010, Larkworthy was awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh enterprise fellowship to explore a business focusing on modular robotics. 


This free podcast is from our Flexible Elements with Per Sjöborg series.

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Photo: Tom Larkworthy