MIT Professor Daniela Rus and her student Kyle Gilpin have co-authored a paper on smart sand, and the robot pebbles they are currently using to develop the concept. They will be presenting this paper at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), to be held May 14th through 18th in St. Paul, Minnesota. Robot Pebbles are cubes, 12mm on a side, containing rudimentary microprocessors and four electorpermanent magnets each. Through these magnets they are able to communicate and transfer power, as well as using them to bond together. Rus and Gilpin have developed an algorithm that enables a pile of robot pebbles to duplicate the shape of any object placed into it. The copy is made up of robot pebbles, and all the other pebbles in the pile simply fall away when it is removed.