I've been working on Shapeshifting Bishop Cubes since the early 1990's. I built a manually-operated, physical model in the mid-2000's and a more refined version later sold as Bishop Cubes®. Robotic versions are in development.
What is a Shapeshifter? From 1995-
Imagine an object that can change its shape, color, and texture to mimic many types of things. If you had a bread-box size piece of this material,
it might take the place of most of your electronic and household appliances by simply turning into the machine you wish to use at the time. Perhaps
you would have it walk the dog, clean the house, and fix dinner in its free time. When you're on the go, it, or maybe just a piece of it, could come
along as your bodyguard... caddie, and whatever else a person can imagine... Such a thing may come to pass in the not distant future. A less capable
version of this stuff can
almost be made using current technologies.
The word "almost" is crossed out because it has become possible to build a versatile, strong, and relatively inexpensive shapeshifting machine based on the principles of Bishop Cubes. There have been many attempts by others, using other ideas. "In general the prototype systems developed in the labs have been fragile and expensive as would be expected during any initial development."
Videos and Animations of Bishop Cubes
The Construction and Utilization of Space Filling Polyhedra for Active Mesostructures, December, 1995
The first paper, describing XY Active Cells. These are a more complicated version of Bishop Cubes®.
A Proposed MNT Active Cell, 1996
This goes in to some detail on a nanotech version of the XY Active Cell.
A Description of a Universal Assembler, 1996
In addition to being a shape-shifting machine an advanced version of my invention can also be used to manufacture other objects, including copies of itself.
The Enumeration and Space-Tiling Motifs of Marked Polyhedra, August, 2007
The underlying geometry of X Active Cell Bishop Cubes®.
A NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts study, "Modeling Kinematic Cellular Automata", Tihamer Toth-Fejel, April 30, 2004