Universal ‘Rubik’s Cube’ Could Become Pentagon Shapeshifter
2009-06-08 0:00

By Noah Shachtman | Wired.com




The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a technology that will allow future military equipment to change shape on command. Several university teams are working on different approaches to create "programmable matter"—made of individual pieces that can self-assemble into tools or spare parts. One of the approaches being examined uses sheets of self-folding material that can form three-dimensional shapes on command.


Even by the standards of the Pentagon fringe science arm, this project sounds far-out: “” that can be ordered to “self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves.” But researchers back by Darpa are actually making progress on this incredible goal, Henry Kenyon at Signal magazine reports.

One day, that could lead to “morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and ’soft’ robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.” A soldier could even reach into a can of unformed goop, and order up a custom-made tool or a “universal spare part.”

One team from Harvard is working on a kind of “generalized Rubik’s Cube” that can fold into all kinds of shapes. Another is trying to order large strands of synthetic DNA to bind together in a “molecular Velcro.” An MIT group is building “’self-folding origami’ machines that use specialized sheets of material with built-in actuators and data. These machines use cutting-edge mathematical theorems to fold themselves into virtually any three-dimensional object.”

The Programmable Matter project is five months into its second phase, which is supposed to wind up early next Spring. When they’re done, the researchers ought to “assemble four or five three-dimensional solids of a specific size and shape from a set of building blocks.”

Intel, which has done a bunch of programmable matter work on its own, is looking beyond those basic steps. Way, way beyond. The malleable stuff could one day “mimic the shape and appearance of a person or object being imaged in real time, and as the originals moved, so would their replicas,” according to their website. “These 3D models would be physical entities, not holograms. You could touch them and interact with them, just as if the originals were in the room with you. ”


NEXT WORLD - Intel Claytronics (Programmable Matter)




Article from: Wired.com/DangerRoom

Video: Youtube.com



Related Articles
Programmable Matter Research Solidifies
DARPA Wants a Shapeshifter
Intel teases shape-shifting programmable matter
'Invisible' Material Key to DARPA Dream Display
How Self-Powered Nanotech Machines Work
Full speed ahead for nanotechnology?


Latest News from our Front Page

Viking Heathen Origin of Horse Meat Taboo
2015-04-21 4:07
YouTube description: The recent horse meat scandal involving Tescos burgers, Ikea meatballs, Findus lasagne and Taco Bell has got people wondering why the English don't eat horses. I covered this subject in my recent dissertation. The answer is to do with paganism. The Catholic church realised that eating horse meat was connected to pagan rites in the North of Europe, ...
Generation Identitaire - Declaration of War
2015-04-21 2:50
We are Generation Identitaire. We are the generation who get killed for glancing at the wrong person, for refusing someone a cigarette, or having an "attitude" that annoys someone. We are the generation of ethnic fracture, total failure of coexistence, and forced mixing of the races. We are the generation doubly punished: Condemned to pay into a social system so ...
No Jab, No Pay reforms: Religious exemptions for vaccination dumped
2015-04-20 20:03
Religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations will be scrapped to toughen Australia’s new “no jab, no pay’’ laws stripping welfare from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Social Services Minister Scott Morrison revealed he is dumping the last remaining exemption on the books after holding talks with religious leaders. Just a week after The Sunday Telegraph revealed Mr Morrison was scrapping exemptions ...
Inside David Lynch: An Esoteric Guide to Twin Peaks
2015-04-20 18:24
‘I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper.’ – David Lynch If you’ve ever sensed the flimsy, thin veneer of what parades itself as the good ole US of A, and felt a bit like you’ve been sold a fake, then David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is a series you must see. ...
Third-gender toilet sign – now a reality in Sweden
2015-04-20 18:29
If you don’t identify yourself as a man, a woman or are officially handicapped — where should you go to relieve yourself? In Sweden, the social justice warriors have solved the problem by inventing a third-gender toilet sign. A couple of years ago, the Swedish language was introduced to a new personal pronoun, “hen“, to replace gender specific hon (she) and ...
More News »