Robo-cubes and Modular Systems

A group of MIT researchers have developed an important bit of technology that could be huge for future robotics and modular systems. Robo-cubes look like something you’d find in the primordial soup on the Transformers home planets or maybe what Magneto was playing with as a toddler. Each of the cubes are modules that can combine or separate independently.

Robo-cubes can skip, hop and roll, thanks to fully-encased flywheel that can rotate at 20,000 rpm. They can perform controlled flips turning from one side to another or recklessly vault themselves into the air as needed. Movement is crucial for these cubes to be a part of a modular system, but that movement means nothing if the cubes can’t connect.

That’s where the magnets come in. The edges of the Robo-cubes are magnets that can help control the movement generated by the cubes’ internal flywheels and allows for them to actually connect. Without the magnets you would just have a bunch of cubes flying all over the places.

Right now, the fact that these blocks can configure and reconfigure to create different shapes is merely cool. You won’t have a robot or machine based on this modular platform tomorrow. Theories take time to develop into application. However, the thought that robots could be set up on a modular system similar to something from Transformers is exciting.

Suppose you have a machine that buts labels on bottles and then a separate machine that puts caps on bottles. You could potentially have a machine built with a modular system, a system that is designed to change, that could put all the labels on those bottles, reconfigure, and then put all the caps on those same bottles.

That type of technology is a long way off. After all, the basis for that type of machinery has just been developed, but modular systems are in use today. Indramat is a modular system which makes it versatile and and suited to do more than one single task.