Robots out on the factory floor pretty much know what's coming. Constrained as they are by programming and geometry, their world is just an assembly line. But for robots operating out doors, away from civilization, both mission and geography are unpredictable. Here, robots with the ability to change their shape could adapt to constantly varying terrain.
Metamorphic robots are designed so that they can change their external shape without human intervention. One general way to achieve such functionality is to build a robot composed of multiple, identical unit modules. If the modules are designed so that they can be assembled into rigid structures, and so that individual units within such structures can be relocated within and about the structure, then self-reconfiguration is possible.
These systems claim to have many desirable properties including versatility, robustness and low cost. Each module has its own computer, a rich set of sensors, actuators and communication networks. However, the practical application outside of research has yet to be seen .One outstanding issue for such systems is the increasing complexity for effectively programming a large distributed system, with hundreds or even thousands of nodes in changing configurations. PolyBot has been developed through as third generation at the Xerox Palo alto Research Center. Conro robot built at the information sciences institute at the University of Southern California are examples for metamorphic robots.