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8420327_sThese tiny robotic cubes can jump, move around, and can unify to create a bigger robot– in any form necessary. This new development by the MIT AI labs is called M-Block, and its goal is to create a multi-purpose robot that can change itself according to its current objective.

How does it work? Inside each small cube there’s a spinning flywheel. When the flywheel stops all its energy is transferred to the cube, which moves or even jumps around. When the cubes touch, magnets help anchor them together in a stable and precise fashion.

Currently the robot’s operators transmit simple orders to each cube separately, slowly creating larger robotic shapes. According to MIT News the goal is to create smart cubes. When an operator will direct a group of cubes to a certain location, for example, the cubes will move independently and create the most appropriate shape in order to reach that location.

iHLS – Israel Homeland Security

In the future some cubes will have special roles and capabilities: Flashlight cubes, battery cubes, camera cubes and so on.

And it doesn’t stop there. Even though the cubes are relatively small, the final goal is to create miniature nano-robots that can cooperate and do practically anything, like the liquid metal robot from The Terminator.

The researchers believe that their cubes can be a lot of help in their present state, too. A large number of them could help support bridges, roads or scaffolding during repairs, or form furniture or heavy tools. In emergencies the cubes can reach areas considered too dangerous for humans, take the appropriate form and handle the issue.