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Self-Building Blocks.
Robots that know when they’ve been snapped together are all well and good, but the ideal modular robot would reconfigure itself. That’s the idea behind Yim’s “G2” PolyBots. These modules feature the same motorized-hinge design found in G1 devices, though in this case the motor protrudes from the module’s side in a black housing. But G2 modules have infrared sensors to guide them as they detach and reattach, forming new shapes without any outside help. “The G2 experiments are leading to further autonomy” for modular robots, Yim says. “Their ability to morph from shape to shape makes them ideal for unstructured situations, like search and rescue in bombed or earthquake-damaged buildings. Ultimately, though, we hope that the PolyBots’ commercial successors will be versatile enough to handle the mundane tasks that average consumers have.”

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