Humans do it, bacteria do it, even viruses do it: they make copies of themselves. Now US researchers have built a flexible robot that can perform the same trick. It’s not the first self-replicating robot ever built, says Hod Lipson of Cornell University, who led the study. But previous machines with the capacity for copying themselves have been very simple, often spreading out in only two dimensions. And more complex devices existed only in computer simulations, not reality.
Lipson’s robot consists of four cubes, each 10-cm to a side, which are sliced diagonally into halves that can rotate against each other. This allows the robot to change shape, he reports in Nature. Provided it is fed with cubes, the robot can create a copy of itself within a few minutes.
Click here to watch the robot reproduce (amazing!).