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The effort for Self-Assembling Robots

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Researchers at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) have created robotic subunits called “voxels” that can self-assemble into a rudimentary robot, and then collect more voxels to assemble larger structures or even more robots. Each robot consists of several voxels connected end-to-end (Opens in a new window). They use small but powerful magnets to latch onto additional subunits, which they can use to assemble new objects or make themselves larger. Eventually, a human operator might simply be able to tell these self-assembling robots what they want to be built, allowing the machines to figure out the specifics.

For example, if one robot isn’t enough to build the required structure, it can make a copy of itself from the same voxel components to split the work. When building something large, the robots could also decide to make themselves bigger and thus more efficient for the task. It could also be necessary for large robots to split into smaller ones for more detailed work. A large part of this research is simply refining the algorithms that govern how the robots grow and replicate, ensuring they can work together without crashing into each other. Source: analytics insight