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M-Block are magnetically-bonded, angular momentum-actuated modular robots. They are 50 mm cubes are autonomous robots that have no external actuated moving parts, and no tethers. The modules are capable of pivoting about their edges using inertial force actuation. A flywheel located inside the module, (oriented in the plane of the intended motion), is used to store angular momentum before a braking mechanism is used to decelerate the flywheel and, during a short duration, exert a high torque on the module. If this torque is sufficiently high, the module breaks its magnetic bonds with its neighbors and pivots into a new location.
Pivoting Cube Model
John Romanishin, Kyle Gilpin, and Daniela Rus. M-Blocks: Momentum-driven, Magnetic Modular Robots. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Tokyo, Japan. 2013
John Romanishin, Kyle Gilpin, Sebastian Claici, and Daniela Rus. 3D M-Blocks: Self-reconfiguring Robots Capable of Locomotion via Pivoting in Three Dimensions. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). 2015
John Romanishin (johnrom at csail dot mit dot edu)
Kyle Gilpin (kwgilpin at csail dot mit dot edu)
Sebastian Claici (sclaici at csail dot mit dot edu)