http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyzVtTiax80&mode=related&search=
Posted on 2007-01-13 07:11:24 by Homer
It makes me remember of the oldbie "The Terminator" movie series. It is really marvelous.
Posted on 2007-01-13 16:08:31 by codename
Like one of the comments: I don't see any replication in there.

Interesting video, but still - how does it work? Does it "discover it's surroundings"? To me it looks like it has pre-programmed knowledge of where the other blocks are (they're positioned very neatly), so it's "just" some calculations on how to move optimally. Could be wrong, of course.

Still looks & sounds cute, though :)
Posted on 2007-01-13 19:30:12 by f0dder
Each block contains a microprocessor, and its faces are covered with a number of electromagnets which have three purposes:
-they are used to connect and disconnect the blocks
-they are used to sense nearby blocks via hall effect
-they double as electrical contacts for 4 bit parallel communication
The swivel action is provided by an internal motor.

The demonstration 'tower building program' shows how these autonomous units can cooperate (to prevent themselves from toppling over) whilst performing complex tasks (like building a tower).
The blocks look like they were positioned carefully because they were - the demonstration begins with a complete tower that deconstructs itself, and then reconstructs itself in a different order.

It might not seem like this machine is 'replicating' anything, but do bear in mind that this research is geared toward nanotechnology, now imagine millions of these blocks interacting to form a REAL machine (with the combined processing power that implies), and it becomes a rather more interesting concept - machines built from nanomachines which can reorganize their 'cells'.

It reminded me of a movie called Demon Seed (1978?) in which a supercomputer decided to kill its creator and procreate with his wife.. the major mechanical appendage of this supercomputer was remarkably similar in design to these things :)
Posted on 2007-01-14 07:39:33 by Homer
Well the problem is that when people see "replicating" they think about Jesus and the miracle of transforming 2 fishes in 1000. Actually the replication effect is just: "It is a tower. It can be more than one as long as there are enough parts for it."

I remember buying some cubes in Japan that if you attach one to each other they interact differently. They recognize each other by the magnetic fields each other produce. Kind of a magnetic DNA. I guess it shouldnt be long until they were making experiences like those I think. They can have differences now, can be programmed and its just a matter of time until they can have each a different purpose soon soon.

Well, I actually think its pretty cool.
Posted on 2007-01-14 08:21:18 by codename
What hit me is that each cube can perform only 'a half' of a rotation. If they want to really rotate from one direction to another, at least 2 of them must 'think about it' at the same time. It can be seen well enough that each cube can't rotate independently - they must cooperate. And because they can hold another cube using only 2 of their sides (actually 1, because the other one is already being used if the cube in question is already being held by another one), they must cooperate wisely, so that if one cube wants to grab another one, it must perform a half-rotation along with his friends in some smart way so they position him not only in proper place, but also in proper facing/direction. Fascinating ^^
Posted on 2007-01-14 11:40:40 by ti_mo_n