Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers are building swarms of tiny robots with built-in intelligence, allowing them to build structures, vehicles or even larger versions of themselves.
The robot’s subunit, which is being developed at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, is called a voxel and is capable of carrying energy and data.
“When we build these structures, you have to integrate intelligence,” MIT professor and ABC director Neil Gershenfeld said in a statement. “What emerged was the idea of structural electronics – of making voxels that transmit power and data as well as force.”
The voxels make up both the robot itself as well as the components of the thing being built, allowing them to work together on larger structures.
“He could build a structure, or he could build another robot of the same size, or he could build a bigger robot,” ABC PhD student Amira Abdel-Rahman said in a statement.
Although the research is promising, it will likely be years before we see swarms of self-replicating robots, according to Gershenfeld.
The researchers, who published a paper outlining their findings in Nature, are working with the aviation industry, automakers and NASA on the new technology.
New York Post