MIT Delivers ‘Transformers’ TechnologyBy: Kayla Nelson - October 17, 2013
The days of watching Transformers on television and reveling in the movie franchise may soon find added real world joy. Researchers at MIT have created real world transformers.
The Massachusetts Institution of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence laboratory has spearheaded the development of what is known as modular devices. They aren’t the first to do so; however, they have made significant gains in the functionality and efficiency of the devices.
Within small cubes or M-Blocks, they have inserted a radio, a motor controller, a flywheel mechanism, brakes and additional electronics. These cubes can be comfortably held with two fingers. The M-Blocks remarkably have the power to work as separate or singular entities. They are currently controlled remotely via a radio Wi-fi system, but in the future, the team expects the robots will be programmed to move via internal workings whether they have been commanded to fuse together or separate. Due to their inner workings, they have the power to spin individually at quick speeds or jump.
Each cube has 8 face magnets on each side of the cube which allow them to fuse to other cubes. They also have edge magnets which allows the cube to rotate. Due to the “chambering” of the edges on the cubes, they are able to create a strong bond. The bond allows for transformations to occur without cubes falling out of place or completely disassembling.
The ability for modular robots to jump is fairly unheard of because it requires a large amount of energy, but the researchers at MIT have managed to get their M-Blocks to jump with great precision and ease.
There’s no denying that this research will continue to pick up interest. Here’s to hoping we all are fortunate enough to have a run-in with a black and yellow Camaro that transforms into a highly intelligent robot, sooner than later.
Image credit: mit.edu.