Sensors and gripper arms can simply be attached and removed as needed. You dont even have to be a specialist to quickly and easily replace a defective part, which makes the robots extremely flexible and economical to operate.
Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum: As sensors, computers, actuators, and batteries decrease in size and increase in efficiency, it becomes possible to make robots much smaller without sacrificing a whole lot of capability. There’s a lower limit on usefulness, however, if you’re making a robot that needs to interact with humans or human-scale objects. You can continue to leverage shrinking components if you make robots that are modular: in other words, big robots that are made up of lots of little robots.
In some ways, it’s more complicated to do this, because if one robot is complicated, robots tend to be complicated. If you can get all of the communication and coordination figured out, though, a modular system offers tons of advantages: robots that come in any size you want, any configuration you want, and that are exceptionally easy to repair and reconfigure on the fly.
MIT’s ChainFORM is an interesting take on this idea: it’s an evolution of last year’s LineFORM multifunctional snake robot that introduces modularity to the system, letting you tear of a strip of exactly how much robot you need, and then reconfigure it to do all kinds of things. Cont'd...
In order to interact with their environment and perform the tasks, lightweight robots, like all industrial robots, depend on tools - and in many cases these are vacuum grippers. These form the interface to the workpiece and are therefore a decisive part of the overall system. With their help, the robots can pick up, move, position, process, sort, stack and deposit a wide variety of goods and components. Vacuum gripping systems allow particularly gentle handling of workpieces, a compact and space-saving system design and gripping from above. Precisely because the object does not have to be gripped, the vacuum suction cupenables gapless positioning next to each other.