MIT research scientist John Romanishin has been working on (or at least thinking about) M-Blocks for the past several years, but from the sound of things, everyone thought he was nuts until he managed to actually go make it work. The way it works looks like magic, but it’s just physics: by spinning an internal flywheel at up to 20,000 rpm and then suddenly applying a brake, the conservation of angular momentum causes the entire cube to flip, and in some cases, even jump an appreciable distance. There’s only one axis of movement at the moment, but there’s always the potential to add two more flywheels to enable movement in any direction.
Hallie Siegel’s insight: See also: Cubli – A cube that can jump up, balance, and – soon- walk across your desk, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kYGQtBROAs for other cube robots.
Read more by Evan Ackerman on Automaton.