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Brief Published: 9 Oct 2015

Room-Transforming Robots

New York-based start-up Asmbld has developed a robotic system that can reconfigure the layout of a room in minutes and may change the way people live at home in the future.

The Dom Indoors system involves tiny robots raising or sinking blocks out of a room's floor to build walls, tables and other structures. Thousands of 6-inch plastic and aluminium cubes form the construction materials, which are flat-packed and stored beneath the floor's surface. The robots occupy a 5-inch space below this level and move the cubes to the right place, lifting or lowering them to assemble a structure one layer at a time.

Users can programme different interior options on their phones and, for example, turn their studio apartment from a bedroom at night to an open-plan lounge and workspace during the day. "Instead of wasting resources for spaces that aren't useful 100% of the time, we make the space more efficient and save a lot of money in the long term," Bruno Araujo, Asmbld's robotics engineer, told TechCrunch.

Although Dom Indoors is still being tested, Asmbld is looking to launch the system commercially soon, at a cost of around $12,000 per 500 sq ft.

With the price of real estate increasing faster than incomes in many large cities and people and businesses forced into ever-smaller spaces, product designers should consider ways to use existing space more efficiently.

For more insight on future solutions for urban living, see Sustainable Futures Update: The Consumer of 2030.