Self-replicating robots can ‘build almost anything’ and become bigger machines

A new type of robot is able to build 'almost anything' and even make itself larger, thanks to a scientific breakthrough.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a robot that can self-assemble and build 'almost anything', including buildings and vehicles.

These 'assembler robots' can even build bigger robots to increase their power.

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The scientists demonstrated that the assembler bots and the components they build can be made of the same materials, making it possible for the robots to work 'independently' and rapidly assemble things at scale.

That means they could one day be used to build any number of 'large, high value structures' including cars, aeroplanes, houses, and more.

According to researchers, one day these assembler bots will even feature 'decision-making' algorithms which enable the robots to decide whether to build a structure, copy itself, or build a bigger robot.

One of the scientists behind the research, Professor Neil Gershenfeld, said that the work is an important step towards building "a fully autonomous self-replicating robot assembly system" capable of assembling larger structures.

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Prof Gershenfeld explained that, while there is plenty of research on robotic 'route planning' (or how a robot designs a structure), this is the first piece of work to look at "the step after that', of the robot having to make the decision to build another robot or a different kind of robot."

Gershenfeld said: "That's new. There's really nothing prior on that."

Aaron Becker, a professor of engineering at the University of Houston who was not involved in the research, commented: "This is the first work I've seen that attacks the problem [of scalable robotic workforces] from a radically new perspective—using a raw set of robot parts to build a suite of robots whose sizes are optimized to build the desired structure (and other robots) as fast as possible."


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