Smart Sand Replicator

Until we invent a replicator that works by using an energy beam to transport molecular material, we have to make copies the old fashioned way – using solid materials. MIT is working on the mathematics required to make copies of objects using a smart sandbox.

Self-sculpting sand – [mit.edu]

New algorithms could enable heaps of ‘smart sand’ that can assume any shape, allowing spontaneous formation of new tools or duplication of broken mechanical parts.

Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of the model.

That may sound like a scene from a Harry Potter novel, but it’s the vision animating a research project at the Distributed Robotics Laboratory (DRL) at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. At the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May — the world’s premier robotics conference — DRL researchers will present a paper describing algorithms that could enable such “smart sand.” They also describe experiments in which they tested the algorithms on somewhat larger particles — cubes about 10 millimeters to an edge, with rudimentary microprocessors inside and very unusual magnets on four of their sides.

Smart sand & robot pebbles – [youtube.com]

SEE ALSO:
Self-Assembling Swarms of Microrobots
Smart Dust
Utility Fog

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