Carnegie Mellon University Website Home Page

Claytronics Research

    Building synthetic reality

        from technological concept to engineered project

The Carnegie Mellon Intel Claytronics Research Project combines two principal paths to create technology that will represent information in dynamic, life-like 3-D forms --

♦ Engineering design and testing of modular robotic catom prototypes that will be suitable for manufacturing in mass quantities
♦ Creation of programming languages and software algorithms to control ensembles of millions of catoms
The invention of claytronics technology combines expertise in modular robotics, systems nanotechnology and computer science to design highly reliable, sub-millimeter-scale robotic catoms and the software algorithms to manage millions of those devices as they form dynamic, 3-dimensional representations of reality.     

The Carnegie Mellon-Intel Claytronics Research Project addresses many unique and challenging aspects of micro-robotics engineering and distributed network computing.  It approaches these challenges with a focus fixed upon the design of the simplest feasible systems consistent with the overall goal of the reliable and robust performance of claytronic ensembles.  This approach seeks to enable claytronics technology to develop in concert with minimization of manufacturing costs and fabrication complexity.  

The Ensemble Axiom

These goals are embodied in the claytronics program's guiding principle, a criterion for design that maintains the researchers' focus on the ultimate objective for building claytronics hardware and software systems.  This criterion receives expression in the Ensemble Axiom, which states:

A catom includes only enough functionality to contribute to the functionality desired in the claytronic ensemble. 

One of its most important inspirations for this overarching principle of ensemble design is the scale of claytronics

For more insight into the vision driving research to build claytronic ensembles, browse through the following presentation of the concept of claytronics, which highlights other principles behind the research that brings Carnegie Mellon and Intel together in this important collaboration.