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MIT lab builds self-assembling robot cubes

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MIT Cube Robot
MIT Cube Robot

Today, MIT researchers unveiled a new kind of robot called M-blocks, a group of self-assembling cubes with no external moving parts. The M stands for "modular," which means the cubes can form themselves into whatever shape scientists require, in contrast to more specialized robots like rovers or walkers.

There's a flywheel inside each block, which provides the angular momentum to flip the cube from side to side, combined with a magnet to let the cubes stick to each other. The force from the flywheel is so strong that the cubes can actually hurl themselves over other objects, allowing to jump over other blocks and potentially navigate eternal obstacles. Researchers say the next step is to make the self-assembly process more automatic, so that a controller can describe a shape and let the cubes determine how to form it on their own.