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back to article New Terminator-style 'bots can self-assemble, leap, climb and SWARM

Roboticists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a range of self-assembling cube robots, which have no external moving parts. Youtube Video Despite their lack of limbs, the M-Blocks can climb over and around each other, jump into the air, roll around and even move when hanging upside down - all thanks to an …

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Anonymous Coward

The t1000,

mimimetic polyalloy.

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Terminator

Re: The t1000,

Your foster parents are dead.

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Not Terminator

Stargate & Stargate Atlantis Replicators... Much scarier...

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Boffin

Re: Not Terminator

It's ok! We're safe! We're fresh out of Neutronium as far as I can tell.

(We really need a "Don't Panic!" icon)

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Terminator

Re: Not Terminator

"It's ok! We're safe! "

Unless there are any old Russian subs around...damn it.

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Re: Not Terminator

No neutronium just means you can't get human-form replicators. (Which need such gods-awful amounts of power to create in the first place that I am entirely unsure Earth can generate that and deliver it all to one place.) You can still get the bugs. Those creepy, evil bugs.

Frankly, I always felt they were the single worst Sci-Fi enemy of all time. The human form replicators could be (sort of) reasoned with. The Pegasus replicators had some bizzare glitch where they actually constructed their ships and cities from regular materials (instead of blocks), making them vulnerable. Even the Borg always had the possibly of eventually negotiating a compromise.

Not the replicator bugs. Those things were relentless. They had one purpose and one purpose only: make more bugs. You were nothing more than raw materials to them. They would consume whole planets and convert them all into bug-blocks.

Terrifying, terrifying stuff. "Grey goo" given form and the ability to spray acid onto your face.

I'm going to give that a great big "nope" and run the hell away.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not Terminator - @Trevor_Pott

Upvoted for attention to laws of thermodynamics.

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Re: Not Terminator

Aggressive hegemonising swarm.

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Anonymous Coward

These are not the robots you are looking for

I thought it was going to be something different. True "self assembling" robots would go online to Maplin to order the parts for the next generation, and then build them when they land on the doormat.

At that point, we are just a credit-card away from oblivion. All it would take is for them to generate their own source of income - agriculture perhaps, or a spot on a reality TV show.

Before our civilisation collapses they would use their surplus income to fund research into hyperdrive technology, then clump together and head off to assimilate the rest of the galaxy.

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Re: These are not the robots you are looking for

I also immediatly thought about the SG Replicators...

Surprised Mantrid drones weren't mentioned. On the other hand, they don't have such a nice small form-factor. Really hope this project develops into something.

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Greenfly

From Alistair Reynold's "Galatic North". They took over the entiere galaxy.

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Terminator

Nothing to worry about here

It's not like other scientist are developing velociraptor like robots that could combine with this to create the perfect killing machine;

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/05/dino_tail_robot/

Well lucky for us there's no Skynet-like AI which will allow it to realise that humans are the threat;

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/21/ibm_watson_talking_computer_customer_service/

Oh

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Pint

Re: Nothing to worry about here

GATTAI SEQUENCE HAJIME!

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A witch! A witch!

Once we used (quite rightly) to burn witches - this smells strongly of witchcraft - prepare the stake and faggots before it's too late...

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Re: A witch! A witch!

To be fair, what is science if not witchcraft with clipboards?

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Re: A witch! A witch!

Pillar one: Science without results is just witchcraft.

Pillar two: Get results or you're fired.

Pillar three: if you suspect a coworker of bein' a witch, report them immediately. I cannot stress that enough. Witchcraft will not be tolerated.

[Cave Johnson, c.a. 1957]

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Re: A witch! A witch!

Steak _and_ faggots? I've nothing against protein overload, but I think we at least need some bashed tatties and neaps to go along o' that :-). Oh, and gravy. Though the whole 'faggots' thing sort of makes that a given... :-)):

http://www.yummyfood.net/recipes-id658.html

http://britishfood.about.com/od/eorecipes/r/faggots.htm

Damn. Now I'm hungry. Again. Sigh...

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Re: A witch! A witch!

Incorrect. Burning was for heretics, whilst witness were generally hung or drowned. It's no better, but it pays to be historically accurate.

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Re: A witch! A witch!

Sorry to put a damper on your intended repast...but the STAKE (nee steak) and FAGOTS (nee FAGGOTS) @ Pen-y-gors was referring to...would be used to COOK your meal...not be the entree'.

fag·ot - noun \ˈfa-gət\

Definition of FAGOT

: bundle: as

a : a bundle of sticks

b : a bundle of pieces of wrought iron to be shaped by rolling or hammering at high temperature

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fagot

OK...everyone back to work. The English lesson is over now.

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Faggots?

This will confuse out brethren from across the pond.

It will be necessary to explain to them that faggots can be:

An archaic unit of measurement for bundles of sticks used for burning heretics, witches were generally drowned.

Or

Is traditionally made from pig's heart, liver and fatty belly meat or bacon minced together, with herbs added for flavouring and sometimes bread crumbs, popular in the Midlands as a warming dish.

The author is not anti-gay or promoting the burning of homosexuals, also the word minced is not to do with they way a person walks.

In this day and age things need to be explained to prevent arrest and litigation.

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Re: A witch! A witch!

Being more historically accurate, I believe, witches tended to be hung in blighty but burned on the continent.

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Re: A witch! A witch!

What no yorkshire pudding ?

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Re: Faggots?

> This will confuse out brethren from across the pond.

Just stop being such a faggot. They will get it.

In extremis the can watch the excellent cross-pond translation effort "The 51st state":

Hands pack of cigs to Amurrican:

"Fag?"

"No.... mutherfucka!"

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Re: A witch! A witch!

Ah, me - I blush :-).

I'll leave it to the floor to decide whether I was falling victim to poor reading comprehension - or instead to a dance of word and pune (courtesy of Mr N Molesworth, and nothing to do with _prunes_, which are chiz and revolting) on words :-).

So stake thy ground sir, and I'll let my steak be ground - perhaps to make my faggots :-))).

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Anonymous Coward

@Re: A witch! A witch!

Tended to be hung in blighty? I thought the method was drowning in the village pond. If they sunk they werent a witch and if they floated they were.. obviously a bit late by then.

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Re: A witch! A witch!

In the interests of historical accuracy - how many of the witnesses would they drown, and was it everyone who had seen the witches or only those who gave evidence?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @A witch! A witch!

"I thought the method was drowning in the village pond. If they sunk they werent a witch and if they floated they were.. obviously a bit late by then."

Yes, it was a bit late by then... but now, thanks to modern science, we have a foolproof way to ensure that innocent women don't get drowned. You simply have to put them on one pan of a giant weighing scale, with a duck in the other pan, and check that they are not in perfect balance. If they weigh the same, they will clearly float and are therefore made of wood and should be burned as a witch!

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Anonymous Coward

Finally...

... I'll be able to solve a rubik's cube without dismantling it.

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'Borg

Resistance is futile...

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Animation

Looks interesting

Unfortunately the video clips look a bit like stop-frame animation (reminded me of Chorlton and the Wheelies).

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Boffin

I'm just a little concerned

In that these things look even less prepared for a war of annihilation than the average, non-stair climbing, Dalek.

Ok, they can maybe go upstairs if enough of them prop each other up, but they're seriously lacking in the sink-plunger and eggwhisk department...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm just a little concerned

In that these things look even less prepared for a war of annihilation than the average, non-stair climbing, Dalek.

On the other hand, I know of no Dalek that could jump on your wallet and erase the mag swipes of all your credit cards. It's a good thing we use chip & PIN :)

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Re: I'm just a little concerned

They can do more than just go up stairs: they can *be* stairs!

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I was thinking more

Terrahawks cubes... But then that just may be my age :)

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Re: I was thinking more

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1929-P7mAfY

Send in Sgt Major Zero!

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Re: I was thinking more

Thank goodness someone got around to Terrahawks with my having to show my age instead. Not that I remember Terrahawks of course. I'm too young.

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I, for one, welcome our new robotic cube overlords…

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I see a lot of potential in this system... macro-molecular self-organising design, swarming behaviour, brilliant work.

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Control

If they only have a single actuator then can they not only jump "forwards" and "backwards" - how do they turn a corner?

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Re: Control

Gyroscopic effect? The flywheel wants to continue in a straight line. Rotate it and Newton mean you move the other way.

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Re: Control

Wouldn't that require another actuator to rotate the flywheel perpendicular to it's axis?

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Joke

Re: Control

So they're just like Chinese ghosts, then.

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Optional

Self-assembling robots, and ideas about making them autonomous - and they'll probably get smaller, as well. What could possibly go wrong?

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switching magnetic fields

Could then not allow alignment and moving over each other by manipulating magnetic fields ? I am totally ignorant in magnetics but that would allow maybe movement without any moving parts.

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Terminator

The end will look like a horde of Mexican jumping cubes?

Or are these like the cube thing in Hellraiser?

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Rol
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Killing is childs play.

Not happy to rest with death by Meccano-droid we have death by Lego brick, never saw that one coming.

At least it wasn't Stickle Bricks, oh that would be gruesome indeed.

I'm thinking, My Little Ponies of the apocalypse, just around the corner.

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Re: Killing is childs play.

This or crazy jihadi head-cutting / pancreas-eating hordes, what do you prefer?

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Rol
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Re: Killing is childs play.

Is that with or without chipatis.

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I've just got back from a local industrial estate

I've bought a large amount of iron filings and steel swarf, to spread around the boundary of my property.

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Demon Seed

This reminds me of the robot in the film Demon Seed. Not the ones built by the scientist, the one built by the huge brain. It appeared to be made out of thousands of little pyramids (3 sided ones) that stuck together and flipped round to make new shapes.

This was an amazing thing to watch, as this was all before CGI got going, so I guess it was done by stop motion animation. There were a number of concepts in the film that were ahead of their time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_Seed

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