TERMES: An autonomous robotic system for three-dimensional collective construction

Kirstin Petersen, Radhika Nagpal, Justin Werfel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

41 Scopus citations


Collective construction is the research area in which autonomous multi-robot systems build structures according to user specifications. Here we present a hardware system and high-level control scheme for autonomous construction of 3D structures under conditions of gravity. The hardware comprises a mobile robot and specialized passive blocks; the robot is able to manipulate blocks to build desired structures, and can maneuver on these structures as well as in unstructured environments. We describe and evaluate the robot's key capabilities of climbing, navigation, and manipulation, and demonstrate its ability to perform complex tasks that combine these capabilities by having it autonomously build a ten-block staircase taller than itself. In addition, we outline a simple decentralized control algorithm by which multiple simultaneously active robots could autonomously build user-specified structures, working from a high-level description as input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRobotics
Subtitle of host publicationScience and Systems VII
EditorsHugh Durrant-Whyte, Nicholas Roy, Pieter Abbeel
PublisherMIT Press Journals
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780262517799
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Robotics Science and Systems, RSS 2011 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: Jun 27 2011Jul 1 2011

Publication series

NameRobotics: Science and Systems
ISSN (Electronic)2330-765X


ConferenceInternational Conference on Robotics Science and Systems, RSS 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLos Angeles

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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