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Popular Science

Researchers at MIT have developed underwater robotic structures that can contort into different shapes, reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “This ability is key in submersible robots, since it allows them to move through the water much more efficiently, as countless varieties of fish do in rivers, lakes, and the open ocean,” explains Paul.

TechCrunch

MIT researchers have developed a new system for creating deformable underwater robots that can be used to build robots of varying shapes and sizes with both hard and soft elements, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “The robot is largely hollow, built of modular voxels that can be assembled to create systems that are rigid in certain directions and soft in others,” Heater explains.

The Washington Post

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station completed an experiment to test a system developed by researchers from MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative that would allow astronauts to build parts in space, reports Pranshu Verma for The Washington Post. The new system could allow astronauts to build and modify space stations “quicker, cheaper and with less complexity,” explains Ariel Ekblaw, director and founder of the Space Exploration Initiative. “It starts to unlock more opportunities for exploration.”

Popular Science

MIT researchers developed a new system to build gravity-defying spare parts in space that is currently being tested aboard the International Space Station, reports Rahul Rao for Popular Science. “The MIT group’s process involves taking a flexible silicone skin, shaped like the part it will eventually create, and filling it with a liquid resin,” writes Rao. “These are going to be our first results for a really novel process in microgravity,” explains Ariel Ekblaw SM ’17, PhD ’20, director of the Space Exploration Initiative.

BBC

Prof. Neil Gershenfeld and graduate student Amira Abdel-Rahma speak with BBC Digital Planet reporters Gareth Mitchell and Ghislaine Boddington about their research developing tiny robots that can assemble themselves into structures, vehicles or even larger robots. “The main objective of this research is the robot can have a few choices,” says Abdel-Rahma. “First it can build the structure, the second choice is it could self-replicate or clone… the third, it could evolve and build a bigger robot.”

Fox News

Paul Best reports for Fox Business on how MIT researchers are developing tiny robots with built-in intelligence that can allow them to assemble into structures, vehicles or even larger robots.

Popular Science

Researchers from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms are developing fully autonomous robots that can work together to assemble “almost any conceivable structure or product, including bigger iterations of themselves as their projects scale larger,” reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “Potential uses include building structures to aid in protection against sea level rise and coastal erosion,” writes Paul, “as well as 3D printed houses and space habitat construction.”

TechCrunch

Researchers from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms are developing robots that can effectively self-assemble and could even build large structures, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “At the system’s center are voxels (a term borrowed from computer graphics), which carry power and data that can be shared between pieces,” writes Heater. “The pieces form the foundation of the robot, grabbing and attaching additional voxels before moving across the grid for further assembly.”

New Scientist

Prof. Nikta Fakhri and her colleagues have placed hundreds of starfish embryos into salt-water tanks where they arrange themselves into honeycomb-like patterns at the water’s surface, reports Karmela Padavic-Callaghan for New Scientist. “These structures, which had never been seen before, may form because of the embryos’ swimming style and body shape,” explains Padavic-Callaghan.

Fast Company

Ariel Ekblaw, director of the Space Exploration Initiative and founder of the Aurelia Institute, speaks with Fast Company reporter Rachael Zisk about accessibility needs for human spaceflight and the next generation of space stations. “The goal of democratizing access to space is to allow more people around the world to see themselves in that future,” says Ekblaw. 

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights multiple MIT research projects, including MIT Space Exploration Initiative’s TESSERAE, CSAIL’s Robocraft and the recent development of miniature flying robotic drones.

Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain podcaster Shankar Vedantam speaks with NGO leader and Maldives native, Hassan Maniku, who is working with researchers from the MIT Self-Assembly Lab to find a natural process to quickly build islands to combat the growing effects of rising sea levels on coastal communities. “People in the Maldives know they can’t stop the ocean from rising, they have to adapt to that reality and over the last several years, that is exactly what they have started to do,” says Vedantam. 

Tech Briefs

Graduate student Benjamin Jenett speaks with Tech Briefs about his work developing a new kind of airplane wing that can adapt in the air to changing conditions. "If you can have an aircraft that can actively change its shape, then you can optimize its performance," says Jenett.

TechCrunch

MIT researchers have created an ambulatory motor that can “walk” back and forth or make the gears of another machine move. “On its own, this little moving microbe is impressive enough,” writes Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch, “but its real potential lies in what could happen were it to be assembled with others of its ilk, and with other building-block robotics components made up of simple parts.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Katharine Schwab writes that MIT startup Ministry of Supply worked with researchers at the MIT Self-Assembly Lab to develop a new sweater that can be adjusted for an individual’s specific size using heat. “The fabric shrinks when exposed to heat, thanks to both the structure of the knit and the combination of materials used,” explains Schwab.