This thing is hypnotic to watch in action, although of course the purpose - to study self-replication - has the potential to create truely disruptive technologies.
Self-replication is a fundamental property of many interesting physical, formal and biological systems, such as crystals, waves, automata, and especially forms of natural and artificial life. Despite its importance to many phenomena, self-replication has not been consistently defined or quantified in a rigorous, universal way, nor has it been demonstrated systematically in physical artificial systems. Our research focuses both on a new information-theoretic understanding of self-replication phenomena, and the design and implementation of scalable physical robotic systems where various forms of artificial self replication can occur. Our goal is twofold: To understand principles of self-replication in nature, and to explore the use of these principles to design more robust, self-sustaining and adaptive machines.