Daniela Rus and Kyle Gilpin, the authors of the algorithm that could lead to the development of smart sand (Photo: M. Scott Brauer)
"Smart pebbles" are cubes about 10 millimeters to an edge, with processors and magnets built in (Photo: M. Scott Brauer)
The cubes use electropermanent magnets to connect to each other, to communicate and to share power (Photo: M. Scott Brauer)
Research currently underway at MIT’s Distributed Robotic Laboratory (DRL) could lead to an innovative replicative manufacturing technique with the disruptive potential equal to that of 3D printing. Imagine a sand-like material that could autonomously assemble itself into a replica of any object encased within. Incredible though this may sound, the DRL researchers have already managed to build a large scale proof-of-concept, with 10-mm cubes acting as the grains.
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