Remember the super villain from the Marvel Universe known as Sandman? Yeah, I know that the guy was down on his luck and did not manage to handle his feelings correctly, resulting in him venting his angst on the world – especially after he realized that he is no longer fully human, but has mutated into part sand organism. I am not quite sure whether he still needs to eat or sleep after that though considering his body’s molecular structure has changed dramatically, but I will leave that to the comic fans to debate over. What I want to focus on today is the work by MIT researchers who have managed to come up with tiny magnetic cubes which are able to “communicate” with each other in order to auto-duplicate objects in a “sand box”, courtesy of a subtractive production algorithm.
This robotic system might eventually be used one day for the spontaneous formation of new tools or replacements for broken objects, and the ‘smart pebbles’, as they are called, are cubes which measure around 10 millimeters to an edge, sporting built-in processors and magnets. These self-sculpting reconfigurable robotic cubes are capable of “talking” to one another to re-create a three-dimensional object, and I am very sure that the military will have some level of interest in this.