MIT’s self-assembling cube robots!

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

MIT cubes researcher
Kyle Gilpin, one of the MIT researchers, holds up a few M-Blocks.

In the popular Transformers cartoons and movies, super-powered machine species called the Autobots battle with the evil Decepticons across the universe. Bots like Optimus Prime can transform from a truck into a standing metallic being with arms and legs, and many of the others can also change from vehicles (like jets) into human-like shapes.

Well, while these incredible characters seem to be at home in Michael Bay films and shelves filled with Hasbro toys, they just might one day walk among us in real life!

Meet MIT’s self-assembling cube-shaped robots. These little guys might not be shooting lasers or shouting, “Autobots, roll out!” in gravelly voices anytime soon, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Known as M-Blocks, the mini blocks stick together using magnets and can move around with a rotating device called a “flywheel” that’s built inside them. The scientists who gave life to these little creatures see them being used in the future like mini “swarmbot” pieces that can come together, almost like the “liquid steel” from the Terminator movies.

However, as far as the near future, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Laboratory (CSAIL) believes the cubes can be used to make temporary repairs to bridges and buildings. One of the lead researchers, John Romanishin, says, “We want hundreds of cubes, scattered randomly across the floor, to be able to identify each other, [come together], and [self-transform] into a chair, or a ladder, or a desk, on demand.”

Images courtesy of MIT on YouTube.