Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

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. End update.

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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

No Tips! Robotic Food Delivery In Phoenix
'...he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.' Robert Heinlein, 1962.

Micro-Robots Are Smallest, Fully Functional
'With a whir, the Scarab shot from the concealing shadows of the corner where it had hidden itself.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1936.

DIY Robotic Hand Made After Loss Of Fingers
'I made them... with the fine work of the watchmaker...' - Boris Zhitkov, 1931.

Robot Snakes No Longer Stopped By Stairs
'...she dropped her hands from the wheel, took the robot snake from his box.' - Lee Chaytor, 1958.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Vast Apartment Living Will Get Even More Vast
'What is your population', I asked. 'About eighty millions.'

NASA Wants Self-Driving Or Remote-Controlled Vehicles For Lunar Astronauts
'THE autobus turned silently down the wide street of Hydropole. Robot-guided, insulated from noise and cold...'

Elon Musk Says Robotaxis Will Be Ready This August, 2024
'The car had no steering wheel, and no one drove!'

Moonwalkers AI-Controlled Electric Shoes
Now that's power walking that Hugo Gernsback would have approved.

Steve Jobs: 'Capture The Next Aristotle - With AI'
'It was disturbing to think of the Flatline as a construct...'

No Tips! Robotic Food Delivery In Phoenix
'...he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'

Electric Catamaran 'Explorer Eco 40m' Has 'Solar Skin'
'On went the electric-yacht faster and still faster.'

Orbital Mechanics, The Liftoff, The Turnover, The Retrograde Burn
'...the huge vessel had spun, with a sickening lurch, through a complete half-circle, the instant the power was reversed.'

Harvest Power From Tears And Blinking With Smart Contact Lens
'...he realized that it was not quite a clear lens. Speckles of colored brightness swirled and gathered in it.'

Europa Clipper Plate Carries A Special Message
'...a universal cryptogram — yet it is one which can be interpreted by any intelligent creature on any planet in the Solar System!'

Micro-Robots Are Smallest, Fully Functional
'With a whir, the Scarab shot from the concealing shadows of the corner where it had hidden itself.'

AI Enhances Images Your Brain Sees
'I could have sworn the psychomat showed pictures almost as sharp and detailed as reality itself'

Illustrating Classic Heinlein With AI
'Stasis, cold sleep, hibernation, hypothermia, reduced metabolism, call it what you will - the logistics-medicine research teams had found a way to stack people like cordwood and use them when needed.'

Deflector Plasma Screen For Drones ala Star Wars
'If the enemy persists in attacking or even intensifies their power, the density of the plasma in space will suddenly increase, causing it to reflect most of the incoming energy like a mirror.'

DIY Robotic Hand Made After Loss Of Fingers
'I made them... with the fine work of the watchmaker...'

Cheap Drunk Driver Detection From UofM
"Look, I can drive... Start, darn it!"

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.