Hiding Sliding Cubes - Why Reconfiguring Modular Robots Is Not Easy

Tillmann Miltzow, Irene Parada, Willem Sonke, Bettina Speckmann, Jules Wulms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Face-connected configurations of cubes are a common model for modular robots in three dimensions. In this abstract and the accompanying video we study reconfigurations of such modular robots using so-called sliding moves. Using sliding moves, it is always possible to reconfigure one face-connected configuration of n cubes into any other, while keeping the robot connected at all stages of the reconfiguration. For certain configurations Ω(n 2) sliding moves are necessary. In contrast, the best current upper bound is O(n 3). It has been conjectured that there is always a cube on the outside of any face-connected configuration of cubes which can be moved without breaking connectivity. The existence of such a cube would immediately imply a straight-forward O(n 2) reconfiguration algorithm. However, we present a configuration of cubes such that no cube on the outside can move without breaking connectivity. In other words, we show that this particular avenue towards an O(n 2) reconfiguration algorithm for face-connected cubes is blocked.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication36th International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2020)
EditorsSergio Cabello, Danny Z. Chen
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik
ISBN (Electronic)9783959771436
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969

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  • Modular robots
  • Reconfiguration
  • Sliding cubes


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