Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have begun work on creating tiny groups of robots that utilize electromagnetic forces to alter their shape and function. Ultimately, the team hopes to build a large number of microscopic robots that are able to metamorphose into any conceivable shape. This would be done by applying a charge to the nanobots, which would form different structures based on how, or where, that charge is applied. The concept is not too dissimilar to the material that was shown to be used for Batman's cape in Batman Begins. That similarity makes this research instantly awesome.
The team are quick to point out that their ideas are far from reaching fruition, and up to this point they are relying on simulations to form strategies that can be used for such shape-changing, or "claytronic," robots. The pocket-sized prototypes they are experimenting with are able to use electromagnetic forces to manoeuvre, communicate and share power. If you haven't already, check out the video above to see a simulation of what the overall concept will be able to do, as well as some footage of the prototypes in action. If that was not enough to keep you entertained, there is even a dorky-sounding narrator to guide you along the way. Gosh, you guys are spoiled. [New Scientist via Newlaunches]