A robotic spider is building a fabric web at MIT's Media Lab - watch it work in the video shown below. The device is not yet autonomous, but that's where the designers intend to take it.
(MIT Robotic Spider)
"We're looking at how you can make a manufacturing process that looks at its surroundings -- say branches or pegs -- that it can weave around," said Elizabeth Tsai, a research assistant at the Media Lab. She said the group plans to swap the yarn for nylon that can stretch when wet, but turns brittle once it dries.
The robot knows the positions of all the hooks and pegs that surround it, but with more work it should be able to sense its surroundings and build a custom structure.
"We're working on the sensing so it knows where it's going on its own," she said.
The most interesting aspect of this device is that it provides a different kind of material creation than the various printer devices.
When I saw this, I thought of the temporary quarters that Molly built in Neuromancer. Although not built with robots, it shows a similar form of construction.
Also, I invite the members of MIT's Media Lab to imagine what an autonomous robotic spider could weave if it had the computational textiles from Alastair Reynold's 2005 novel Pushing Ice.