MIT is creating ‘smart sand’ — made of tiny robotic cubes — that will be able to surround an object, map its form, and then replicate it.
We first heard of the project at NPR.
The minuscule cubes contain a microprocessor, magnets for sticking to each other, and a battery. But size is the biggest issue, as the current smart cubes are still too large for anyone to call granules of sand.
The theory is that an object — say a toy car — would be tossed into a bag containing the little computers. The cubes are then able to interact with each other, and can recognise when they’re pushed up against a foreign object.
A digital silhouette is mapped out, and the data is transmitted to another group of cubes, which will then link together to replicate the object. Remove the extras, and you’ve got a fabricated match of the toy car.
Check out the video explaining the concept below.
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