Cute yet creepy? Somersaulting MIT cube robots can self-assemble
The acrobatic boxes, called M-blocks, have no external parts. And yet they can spin, somersault and snap together to create all kinds of shapes, depending on the job at hand.
â€śIt's simple on the outside, but the insides are very unique,â€ť MIT robotics professor Daniela Rus said in an interview.
Unlike a normal robot that canâ€™t change its form, these modifiable robots can be made into any shape ideal for a given taskâ€™s needs, reconfiguring at a momentâ€™s notice, Rus said.
Itâ€™s almost like a cuddlier, more basic version of the T-1000 â€” the shape-shifting, liquid-metal nemesis in "Terminator 2."
â€śI just had the idea for a really long time,â€ť said MIT roboticist John Romanishin, who proposed the idea while a senior at the university. â€śThe idea has been in a lot of people's minds from movies like 'Terminator' and other popular culture references.â€ť
The blocks move thanks to a flywheel inside their bodies that can spin at a blistering 20,000 revolutions per minute and then can brake straight down to zero in a blinding 10 milliseconds, said MIT roboticist Kyle Gilpin. When the flywheel suddenly stops, all the energy from that angular momentum transfers into the cubeâ€™s frame, causing it to flip.
Sources and more information:
A prototype of a new modular robot, with its innards exposed and its flywheel - which gives it the ability to move independently - pulled out (credit: M. Scott Brauer, MIT) The experts said it couldn't be done. But research scientist John Romanishin of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has created M-Blocks ...
( via latimes.com )
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