John Romanishin, Daniela Rus and Kyle Gilpin introduced M-Blocks, cubic robots with no externally moving parts, at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
Despite their lack of externally moving parts, the robots are able to climb, jump and roll around. A flywheel that rotates up to 20,000 revolutions per minute is inside each robot. When braked, the flywheel transmits its angular momentum to the M-Block, which has magnets on each face, allowing it to attach to other M-Blocks (or, in other words, self-assemble). The robotics simplified existing modular-robot systems by ridding themselves of the concept of static stability.
The team faced opposition and disbelief along the way, but preserved long enough to create a design that the robotics community has been long interested in achieving.