Scientists at MIT have unveiled cube shaped-robots that can flip, jump and assemble themselves into different shapes, and which they hope will one day be able to “accomplish specific tasks in combat or emergency situations,” the BBC reports.
The small robots, known as “M-Blocks,” have no external parts but can move via an internal mechanism. Magnets allow them to stick together.
“The scientists envisage miniaturised ‘swarmbot’ versions self-assembling like the ‘liquid steel’ androids in the ‘Terminator’ films,” the BBC wrote. Researchers imagine large numbers of the cubes could be used to make temporary repairs to bridges or buildings, or as scaffolding that assembles and reconfigures by itself.
Hear the proud scientists discuss their achievements and watch the robots in action:
Modular robots have the advantage of being able to adapt to whatever task or terrain is presented to them.
John Romanishin, one of the research scientists at CSAIL leading the project, said: “We want hundreds of cubes, scattered randomly across the floor, to be able to identify each other, coalesce, and autonomously transform into a chair, or a ladder, or a desk, on demand.”
The M-Blocks are currently controlled by computer instructions sent over wireless radio, but in future the researchers hope algorithms can be loaded on the blocks directly, making them entirely autonomous and capable of adapting to different environments.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.