MIT builds robot cubes that self-assemble

The breaking point of SkyNet was the awakening of the A.I., aye but there is another phase just as important, self-assembly.

MIT’s new M-Block robots don’t need any help. The robots are cubes with a flywheel – that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute -and edge magnets but no external moving parts. They’re able to climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground, and even move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces.

“It’s one of these things that the [modular-robotics] community has been trying to do for a long time,” says Daniela Rus, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of CSAIL. “We just needed a creative insight and somebody who was passionate enough to keep coming at it — despite being discouraged.”


In ongoing work, the MIT researchers are building an army of 100 cubes.

“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,” John Romanishin, who came up with the whole idea, says.

Here’s an extremely cool video of cubes in action:

Researchers are writing algorithms that would let M-Blocks have the ability to assume any shape (enter T-1000) needed to solve a given problem.

Telling ya, Minecraft will be the end of us.



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