Robotic Cubes That Stack Themselves

Like autonomous Legos

How M-Blocks would build a bigger botCourtesy MIT

M-Blocks look unassuming, but they can pivot and jump without external moving parts—a feat engineers have been trying to accomplish for years. Because they’re mobile, the robotic cubes can stack on top of one another autonomously. Their inventors are now working toward the ultimate goal: programming them to combine into a larger, adaptable robot that performs tasks.

M-Blocks

Courtesy: John Romanishin of MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

A: Printed circuit board, radio, and processor control movement.

B: Brushless motor spins the flywheel up to 20,000 rpm.

C: Flywheel stores angular momentum.

D: Rubber belt slows wheel to transfer momentum to frame.

**E: **Aluminum frame hops and joins with other blocks via 24 magnets.

Watch the M-Blocks self assemble below:

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Popular Science.