Modular Robotic Cubes With No External Moving Parts Can Jump & Self-Assemble
M-Blocks are robotic cubes, developed by MIT researchers, that have no external moving parts. Even so, they're able to climb over and around one another, jump, roll, and move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces. Inside each M-Block is a flywheel that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute - when the flywheel is braked, it imparts its angular momentum to the cube. On each edge of an M-Block, and on every face, are permanent magnets that allow any two cubes to attach to each other. The simplicity of the cubes' design makes miniaturization promising. In ongoing work, the MIT researchers are building an army of 100 cubes, each of which can move in any direction, and designing algorithms to guide them. "We want hundreds of cubes, scattered randomly across the floor, to be able to identify each other, coalesce, and autonomously transform into a chair, or a ladder, or a desk, on demand," says lead researcher John Romanishin.