Jumping cuboid bots could be key to emergency rescue

M-Blocks are new self-organising cubes that think as part of a hive mind

The robot revolution is upon us and it is adorable. M-Blocks are new self-organising cuboid robots designed by computer scientists at MIT. They think as part of a hive mind and each robot knows where it should be in relation to the others, hopping, spinning and flipping into place when asked to form a shape.

"M stands for motion, magnet, and magic," says MIT professor and CSAIL director Daniela Rus. "Motion, because the cubes can move by jumping. Magnet, because the cubes can connect to other cubes using magnets, and once connected they can move together and connect to assemble structures. Magic, because we don't see any moving parts, and the cube appears to be driven by magic."

The cubes are, in fact, driven by an internal flywheel that moves at 20,000 revolutions per minute and each face has a magnet to allow it to attach to another bot.

In the future these kinds of jumping cube bots could be useful in emergency scenarios say the scientists who created them. For example, in the case of a burning building, the M-Blocks could be thrown on the ground where they would assemble into a temporary staircase to access and rescue occupants.