DS0704 -

Hardware and software for creating programmable matter – ProgrammableMatter

Submission summary

In this project, we will investigate a new smart system made from a hardware component and a software approach that will enable the creation of programmable matter. The hardware component is a mass-producible, sub-mm, MEMS, namely a micro-robot using computationally controlled actuators used for power distribution, communication, adhesion, and locomotion. The software approach aims to provide a language enabling scalable, real-time, efficient, expressive and at the same time safe programming of an ensemble of micro-robots and making this ensemble interacting with others communicating things through the IoT.

This research focuses on the main challenge to programmable matter: Scaling. For hardware the challenge is to scale down the size of the individual unit. For software the challenge is to scale up the number of elements that can be effectively controlled with a single, easy to understand program. Moreover, the simulation framework must scale up in the number of simulated micro-robots. We tackle the former by using a true 3-dimensional LSI/MEMS chip integration with deformable substrate as our main manufacturing method and a single effector, for all the necessary functionality of the unit. The latter is tackled creating Foxel a recursively scale-invariant functional shape description language implemented in a logic programming language, Meld, to create programs which are inherently concurrent, distributed, fault-tolerant, and also amenable to formal proofs.

This project is a follow-up of the Claytronics project initiated by Intel and Carnegie Mellon University and then co-leaded with FEMTO-ST.

Project coordination

Julien BOURGEOIS (Franche-Comté Electronique, Mécanique, Thermique et Optique - Sciences et Technologies)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LIMMS - UMI2820 Laboratory of Integrated Micro Mechatronic Systems (LIMMS) CNRS UMI 2820
Femto ST Franche-Comté Electronique, Mécanique, Thermique et Optique - Sciences et Technologies

Help of the ANR 439,408 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 48 Months

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