Robots at Cornell University are making copies of themselves without human intervention. In principle, the machines will thus be able to repair and reproduce themselves in space and other remote environments. "Our self-replicating robots perform very simple tasks compared with intricacies in biological reproduction," said engineer Hod Lipson, a Cornell assistant professor. "But we think they demonstrate that mechanical self-reproduction is possible and not unique to biology." Self-replication is sometimes seen as the holy grail of robotics. The goal of the engineers' work is to draw upon biological principles to enable robots to repair themselves as well as assemble "helpers." Such a capability would be especially useful in space, on the ocean floor or inside a "hot" nuclear reactor after a spill.