Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are creating a swarm of tiny robots with built-in intelligence that can build structures, vehicles, and larger versions of themselves.
The robot’s subunit, called a voxel, is being developed by MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. It is capable of carrying data and power.
Neil Gershenfeld, MIT Professor and Director of the CBA, stated in a statement that intelligence is essential when building structures. “The idea of structural electronics emerged — the creation of voxels that transmit data and power as well as force.
These voxels are both the components and the robot, which allows them to collaborate on larger structures.
Amira Abdel Rahman, a CBA doctoral student, stated in a statement that “it could build structures, or it might build another robot of the same size, or it may build a larger robot.”
Gershenfeld says that while the research is promising it will be many years before self-replicating robot swarms are possible.
Researchers published a paper in Nature describing their findings. They are now working with NASA, the car industry, and the aviation industry to develop the new technology.