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New algorithms could enable heaps of ‘smart sand’ that can assume any shape, allowing spontaneous formation of new tools or duplication of broken mechanical parts.

Harvard University engineers have come up with a production technique inspired by pop-up books and origami that allows tiny robots to be mass-produced in sheets. The Harvard Monolithic Bee (or Mobee), for example, turns from a flat shape into a 2.4-millimetre-tall robot in just one movement. The folding process takes less than a second.

tools. by leslie williamson.

Called “feathered apes” for their simianlike smarts, crows use tools, understand physics, and recognize themselves and humans. But new research suggests that the brainy birds may be even smarter than was previously thought. Given a complex problem and an assortment of tools, New Caledonian crows came up with a creative solution that hints at higher-order thinking. (See link.)

Specialists and laymen alike have been discussing the image of a small, shiny, flower-shaped "mystery" object protruding from a rock on the surface of mars, which was captured by Curiosity in October 2012.

Slade - Found Object Robot Assemblage Sculpture By Brian Marshall by adopt-a-bot, via Flickr

A team at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has developed a new 3D printing software pipeline that allows multiple materials to be used in the one object or the internal architecture of the object to be modified to vary the its density and therefore its flexibility.

Ultra-fast, the robotic arm can catch objects on the fly