The machine overlords of our dystopian future may have more in common with Gumby than the Terminator, if the field of "soft robotics" continues to expand. New Scientist reports that George Whitesides and his team in Harvard University have come up with squishy, Lego-inspired blocks that might one day lead to self-replicating robots.
The team began by creating a mould which was filled with flexible plastic in order to produce the actual click-fit elastomeric bricks, or "click-e-bricks." The blocks have since been used to develop everything from simple structures to reconfigurable LED circuits. Ultimately, Whitesides' team hopes to have robots that can manipulate bricks on their own, possibly allowing for on-the-fly repairs.