High-tech Lego could be the building blocks for robots of the future
This time, Harvard scientists have come up with the Click-e-Brick block that were clearly inspired by the popular children’s toy. (One could also make the argument that the existence of Click-e-Brick scientifically proves it popularity beyond children, but I digress.)
The blocks liken the shape of the toys but are very fundamentally different. The Click-e-Bricks can stretch, inflate, bend and can return to its original shape. You ask, so scientists weren’t happy enough with Lego alone, they needed an inflatable Lego? Yes, yes they do need it. The world might need it though it turns out it would start with the field of robotics.
Legos for war and peace
The bricks are created by pouring flexible plastic into a 3D printer mould. The bricks then click together to form “soft” robots which so far function as rudimentary machines rather than the anthropomorphic science fiction-eqsue robots we’re more used to seeing.
The Harvard scientists demonstrate the use of these bricks in a short video showing a series of experiments. The first shows the bricks mixing or redirecting the flow of liquid with a simple realignment of the bricks. The next shows how the bricks could hold an LED light and a battery.
This same team of Harvard researchers is already working on a crawling, tentacled soft robot sponsored by DARPA. The robot should be to change size as needed to fit into tighter spaces and even heal itself of damage. What a surprise, MILITARY applications. Really, who would have thought it? That’s where your inflatable Lego comes from, folks.
We can still delight ourselves (a scarce few seconds from the constant preoccupation on the hubris of man) in the possibility of inflatable Lego toys. Maybe we could build all those houses and gardens and then walk into them and play in them? They would be very child-safe too since they’re so soft to fall on. Ah, to be children again.