Video: Hod Lipson builds “self-aware” robots


Hod Lipson demonstrates a few of his cool little robots, which have the ability to learn, understand themselves and even self-replicate.

At the root of this uncanny demo is a deep inquiry into the nature of how humans and living beings learn and evolve, and how we might harness these processes to make things that learn and evolve.

About Hod Lipson

To say that Hod Lipson and his team at Cornell build robots is not completely accurate: They may simply set out a pile of virtual robot parts, devise some rules for assembly, and see what the parts build themselves into. They’ve created robots that decide for themselves how they want to walk; robots that develop a sense of what they look like; even robots that can, through trial and error, construct other robots just like themselves.

Working across disciplines — physics, computer science, math, biology and several flavors of engineer — the team studies techniques for self-assembly and evolution that have great implications for fields such as micro-manufacturing — allowing tiny pieces to assemble themselves at scales heretofore impossible — and extreme custom manufacturing (in other words, 3-D printers for the home).

His lab’s Outreach page is a funhouse of tools and instructions, including the amazing Golem@Home — a self-assembling virtual robot who lives in your screensaver.