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Programmable matter refers to matter which has the ability to change its physical properties (shape, density, moduli, optical properties, etc.) in a programmable fashion, based upon user input or autonomous sensing. Programmable matter is thus linked to the concept of a material which inherently has the ability to perform information processing.
We still tell our children “you can be anything when you grow up.” It’s time to start telling them “you’re going to be able to make anything…right now.” Similar work at MIT and Carnegie Mellon is pointing towards the next revolution in computers and manufacturing: programmable matter. In the future you won’t use computers to design a car, the car will form from billions of tiny computers that arrange themselves into anything you want. The physical and computational world will merge. Hope you’re ready.
How can a material be intelligent? By being made up of particle-sized machines. At Carnegie Mellon, with support from Intel, the project is called Claytronics. The idea is simple: make basic computers housed in tiny spheres that can connect to each other and rearrange themselves. It’s the same concept as we saw with Modular Robotics, only on a smaller scale. Each particle, called a Claytronics atom or Catom, is less than a millimeter in diameter. With billions you could make almost any object you wanted. See the concept video after the break.
This project combines modular robotics, systems nanotechnology and computer science to create the dynamic, 3-Dimensional display of electronic information known as claytronics.
Our goal is to give tangible, interactive forms to information so that a user's senses will experience digital environments as though they are indistinguishable from reality.
Claytronics is taking place across a rapidly advancing frontier. This technology will help to drive breathtaking advances in the design and engineering of computing and hardware systems.
Our research team focuses on two main projects:
♦ Creating the basic modular building block of claytronics known as the claytronic atom or catom, and
♦ Designing and writing robust and reliable software programs that will manage the shaping of
ensembles of millions of catoms into dynamic, 3-Dimensional forms.
Realizing the vision of claytronics through the self-assembly of millions of catoms into synthetic reality will have a profound effect on the experience of users of electronic information. This promise of claytronic technology has become possible because of the ever increasing speeds of computer processing predicted in Moore's Law.
The world could really use programmable matter to move beyond living for day to day necessities and start exploring humanity’s potential. When everyone has access to a fabrication lab that can make almost anything, the world will be populated by inventors. Not only will every cubic meter have billions of computers, the world will have 7 billion (or more) human minds guiding those computers to new discoveries. In our life times, or our children’s, we will come to realize an inevitable and quite literal truth: the world is what we make it. sh
... that’s the dream, and I believe in it, but I would be amiss if I didn’t point out the nightmare. Look at the weapons humanity has made from sticks and stones and you can begin to imagine the destruction that could be unleashed with programmable matter. Even if we learn to love and let live, the programmable matter will have a huge amount of computational power, enough to support artificial intelligence. Can we hope to control a material that can out-think and out-build us? sh
The goal of Programmable Matter Program is to demonstrate a new functional form of matter, based on mesoscale particles, which can reversibly assemble into complex 3D objects upon external command. These 3D objects will exhibit all the functionality of their conventional counterparts.
Programmable Matter represents the convergence of chemistry, information theory, and control into a new materials design paradigm referred to as "InfoChemistry"—building information directly into materials. To achieve the Programmable Matter vision, key technological breakthroughs will center on the following critical areas:
Encoding information into chemistry, or fusing materials with machines.
Fabrication of mesoscale particles with arbitrary complex shapes, composition, and function.
Interlocking/adhesion mechanisms that are strong and reversible.
Global assembly strategies that translate information into action.
Mathematical theory for construction of 3D objects from particles.
Of critical importance are radical new material architectures that maximize the efficiency of information processing/transfer, and design rules for the optimal number, size, and shape of particles required to create objects of a specific size and spatial feature resolution.
Like something out of Terminator 2, researchers are developing techniques for warfare of the future to create materials that self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves. These capabilities offer the possibility for morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves in any climate, and “soft” robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.
Several university teams, including Harvard, Cornell, and MIT, 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.
Real-life "Transformers" could soon be used by American soldiers on the battlefield.
The Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is well into the second phase of a project to develop "programmable matter" that could reshape itself to fit any situation, reports SIGNAL magazine.
Scientists at Tufts University have received a $3.3 million contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop chemical robots that will be so soft and squishy that they will be able to squeeze into spaces as tiny as 1 centimeter, then morph back into something 10 times larger, and ultimately biodegrade.
The advantages of using unmanned devices to conduct dangerous or difficult operations are clear, and the U.S. has invested in such devices for years. But today's rigid robots, constructed mostly of hard materials, are unable to navigate complex environments with openings of arbitrary size and shape. They are stymied by, say, a building whose only access points may be a crack under a door or a conduit for an electrical cable.
A new report by the National Research Council (NRC) finds that the federal government’s plan for nanotechnology lacks direction, and falls short in assessing the risks posed by nanomaterials.
In its report, released Wednesday, the committee said current U.S. strategy developed by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) leaves the industry vulnerable to public mistrust
The NRC further criticized the lack of adequate research to ensure the safety of workers, consumers and the environment
Originally posted by zazzafrazz
I see all these endeavours as humans just trying to replicate themselves. We are brilliant machines that also learn on a cellular level. Soon these machines will go from robotic particles to biological particles, till eventually, we create what we've already got ~sigh
That said, the physical power of weaponry and robotics will be far superior, and we will only be able ot properly manage this technology when we move to evolving collectively as a species. Advancement like these would only benefit a collective purpose, not our current individual purposes....We're jumping ahead.....