Known as M-Blocks, the robots are cubes with no external moving parts. Nonetheless, they’re able to climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground, and even move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces [...] As with any modular-robot system, the hope is that the modules can be miniaturized: the ultimate aim of most such research is hordes of swarming microbots that can self-assemble, like the “liquid steel” androids in the movie “Terminator II.”
MIT, you've done it again. And again. A team at CSAIL, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, has developed M-Blocks -- robotic cubes that can self-assemble into practically any configuration, through a system of carefully aligned magnets and flywheels. Even at their current scale (about the size of an apricot), the M-Blocks could be used to "fill-in" damaged bridges or buildings in an emergency, or serve as adaptive support systems in construction.
But the smaller the blocks can be built, the more versatile their application -- and the more subtle their shapes. Think of a semi-liquid material that can be poured onto the floor and then spring into the shape of a chair, in whatever design you prefer. The modules could also be outfitted with individual components, like cameras or thermometers, to perform a specific function in the horde.