"M-Blocks" Jump, Flip, Communicate, and Self-Assemble into Structures

MIT researchers have created self-assembling robotic cubes that can climb and roll over each another, jump, and spin into formations. The robots “communicate” using a barcode-like system on each face of the block that allows the modules to identify each other. The autonomous fleet of 16 blocks can accomplish simple tasks or behaviors, like forming a line or following arrows. Inside each “M-Block” is a flywheel that moves at 20,000 revolutions per minute, using angular momentum when the flywheel is braked. Each edge and every face has magnets that let any two cubes attach to each other. The researchers imagine the blocks being used for manufacturing, inspection, and rescue.