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  1. This paper investigates using a sampling-based approach, the RRT*, to reconfigure a 2D set of connected tiles in complex environments, where multiple obstacles might be present. Since the target application is automated building of discrete, cellular structures using mobile robots, there are constraints that determine what tiles can be picked up and where they can be dropped off during reconfiguration. We compare our approach to two algorithms as global and local planners, and show that we are able to find more efficient build sequences using a reasonable amount of samples, in environments with varying degrees of obstacle space. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    We investigate algorithmic approaches for targeted drug delivery in a complex, maze-like environment, such as a vascular system. The basic scenario is given by a large swarm of micro-scale particles ("agents") and a particular target region ("tumor") within a system of passageways. Agents are too small to contain on-board power or computation and are instead controlled by a global external force that acts uniformly on all particles, such as an applied fluidic flow or electromagnetic field. The challenge is to deliver all agents to the target region with a minimum number of actuation steps. We provide a number of results for this challenge. We show that the underlying problem is NP-hard, which explains why previous work did not provide provably efficient algorithms. We also develop a number of algorithmic approaches that greatly improve the worst-case guarantees for the number of required actuation steps. We evaluate our algorithmic approaches by a number of simulations, both for deterministic algorithms and searches supported by deep learning, which show that the performance is practically promising. 
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  3. In this video, we consider recognition and reconfiguration of lattice-based cellular structures by very simple robots with only basic functionality. The underlying motivation is the construction and modification of space facilities of enormous dimensions, where the combination of new materials with extremely simple robots promises structures of previously unthinkable size and flexibility. We present algorithmic methods that are able to detect and reconfigure arbitrary polyominoes, based on finite-state robots, while also preserving connectivity of a structure during reconfiguration. Specific results include methods for determining a bounding box, scaling a given arrangement, and adapting more general algorithms for transforming polyominoes. 
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  4. We present algorithmic results for the parallel assembly of many micro-scale objects in two and three dimensions from tiny particles, which has been proposed in the context of programmable matter and self-assembly for building high-yield micro-factories. The underlying model has particles moving under the influence of uniform external forces until they hit an obstacle. Particles bond when forced together with another appropriate particle. Due to the physical and geometric constraints, not all shapes can be built in this manner; this gives rise to the Tilt Assembly Problem (TAP) of deciding constructibility. For simply-connected polyominoes P in 2D consisting of N unit-squares (“tiles”), we prove that TAP can be decided in 𝑂(𝑁log𝑁) time. For the optimization variant MaxTAP (in which the objective is to construct a subshape of maximum possible size), we show polyAPX-hardness: unless P = NP, MaxTAP cannot be approximated within a factor of Ω(𝑁13) ; for tree-shaped structures, we give an Ω(𝑁12) -approximation algorithm. For the efficiency of the assembly process itself, we show that any constructible shape allows pipelined assembly, which produces copies of P in O(1) amortized time, i.e., N copies of P in O(N) time steps. These considerations can be extended to three-dimensional objects: For the class of polycubes P we prove that it is NP-hard to decide whether it is possible to construct a path between two points of P; it is also NP-hard to decide constructibility of a polycube P. Moreover, it is expAPX-hard to maximize a sequentially constructible path from a given start point. 
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