Researchers at Cornell University in New York have created robotic cubes that can create copies of themselves in under three minutes which, surprisingly, the scientists purport are simple machines. Self-replicating robots are simple? That's because that's all the cubes do — at the moment. They could easily be outfitted with tools for specific tasks, the researchers say. The application for a machine that could reconstruct a copy of itself — reproduce, if you will — or repair itself with limited materials are nearly endless.
Medical nanomachines could be injected into the body and construct a surgical tool without having to open up a patient. Robots sent into space to other planets could repair themselves or even build a troop of explorers once they touchdown. Manufacturing costs would lower as construction robots could replicate both themselves and products. That's the plan, anyway.
So when will we be propelled into this glorious future (and come one step closer to having to fend off relentless, self-replicating robots such as Stargate's Replicators, pictured above)? Nailing down the process of reproducing robots in only one step in a larger puzzle, as scientists still need to figure out how to apply the 'bots effectively.