Entry Date:
June 21, 2011

Programmable Surfaces

Principal Investigator Neil Gershenfeld

Project Website http://surf.cba.mit.edu/

The Programmable Surfaces project is investigating the intersection of research in programmable matter, distributed computing, and digital fabrication, applied to controlling momentum transfer across and through surfaces. It is based on developing arrays of cells that each can compute, communicate, and actuate. These have applications on land, in the air, and on and under water.

Potential benefits of programmable surfaces include improving scalability (cells can be added or removed to match a mission), reliability (individual cells can fail without the system failing), mobility (control laws can be distributed), efficiency (structural weight can be reduced, and cells can cooperate), and economy (manufacturing of custom components can be replaced with batch fabrication processes).