Cubelets - Buy A Robot Swarm For $300
Cubelets are little robots that can be snapped together to create larger robots without any programming or wires. The standard Cubelets kit consists of 20 cubelets in an assortment of types: sensor, action and operator. The kit is the creation of Modular Robotics, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University.
Each cubelet in the kit has different equipment on board and a different default behavior. There are Sense Blocks that act like our eyes and ears; they can sense light, temperature, and how far they are away from other objects. Just like with people, the senses are the inputs to the system.
On the flip side, the Action Blocks act as outputs. They do things. Some have little motors inside of them so that they can drive around or spin one of their faces. There are blocks that make noise, shine a flashlight, or display their information through a light-up bar graph.
( Cubelets - Standard Kit $300)
Each cubelet has a tiny computer inside of it and is a robot in its own right. So when you put blocks together, you're actually making a robot out of several smaller robots. Each block communicates with its neighbors, so you know that if two blocks are next to each other, they're talking. If you make a simple robot by connecting a Light Sensor block to a Speaker block, they'll start to talk, and when the light in the room gets brighter, the Speaker will get louder. Actually, you'd need a third block to make this work: every robot needs a Battery block to run. Next, you could swap the Speaker for a Drive block, and when the light gets brighter, the robot will drive faster. A third category of blocks is the Think Blocks: maybe you’d want to put an Inverse block in between the Light Sensor and Drive blocks. Then, the robot would drive slower as the light gets brighter. This simple communication between adjacent blocks is what gives the kit a little bit of magic.
Although the Cubelets are not able to self-assemble (yet), their ability to communicate with each other and work as a team may remind readers of the autofac nanorobots from Philip K. Dick's 1955 short story.
The cylinder had split. At first he couldn't tell if it had been the impact or deliberate internal mechanisms at work. From the rent, an ooze of metal bits was sliding. Squatting down, O'Neill examined them.
The bits were in motion. Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something that looked like a tiny rectangle of steel.
(Read more about Dick's autofac)
Update 26-Oct-2010: Thanks to Kibo, we now have another sfnal reference to the idea of cubical robots that work together. In Terrahawks! the Cubes were robots that worked well together:
The Cubes are of course the anti-Zeroids. The Cubes perform similar functions to the Zeroids except that they have no real personalities and they work for the bad-guys. Whereas the Zeroids can make themselves incredibly heavy and have strong individual intelligence, the Cubes work well as part of a team. For example in one episode they club together to form a forcefield trapping Hudson, Kate and Dr Ninestein, and in another episode they join together to create a powerful cannon attack.
(The Cubes from Terrahawks!)
Great reference! Thanks again, readers, for your contributions.
Read more about Cubelets at Modular Robotics.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/22/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )
Related News Stories -
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.' - Ray Bradbury, 1950.
SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.' - George Lucas, 1976.
Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Sansar Social Virtual Reality Platform In 2017?
'And just as a daydreamer forgets his actual surroundings, and sees other realities...'
Cellphone Harvests Power From Ambient Radio Signals And Light
A battery-free phone.
Desktopography Makes Virtual Desktops Real
'Ender doodled on his desk, drawing contour maps of mountainous islands and then telling his desk to display them in three dimensions...'
LaWS Laser Can Take Out Rogue Drones
Looks like a weapon for the Runaway squad!
Moon Express Lunar Robot Mining: Shine On, Harvest Moon
'The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine... '
Liquid Body Armor For TALOS Exoskeleton
'... instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...'
Hyperloop One Video Shows It Works!
'Complete evacuation of the interior of the tubes [and] a wave that provides the new propulsive energy for the cars...'
Chairless Chair Exoskeleton By Sapetti
'Earth's scientists... devised rigid metallic clothing...'
Publishing Technologies In Science Fiction
Well, this should be enough references to start...
Russia Working On Military Exoskeletons
'Вы похожи на большую стальную гориллу...'
3D Printed Bionic Chinese Skin
Your skin is ready!
Flexup Tire Design Good For Tumblebugs
'Each spoke telescopes into five sections.'
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...'
Asteroid Deflection With DART
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'
Translate One2One From IBM's Watson Your Communication Solution
'It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix...'
News Now Philip K. Dick's Bailiwick
'A vast complex electronic organism... responsible to no one...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories