It happened very often in History that science fiction introduced
ideas that were later on turned into reality: think about Jules
Verne, for instance (travels to moon and back, submarines).
Today, the inspiration comes (maybe) from the well-known
Terminator 2 movie. Remember the bad terminator in that movie?
It was a solid-liquid machine, capable of reshaping itself into
virtually anything, becoming then more and more lethal... Well,
guess what? DARPA (which stands for Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency) has issued a solicit for a new program, aimed
at the realization of a chemical robot (yes, you read it right!!!),
capable of (from the requirements list):
a) travel a distance of 5 meters at a speed of 0.25 meters/minute;
b) achieve a 10-fold reduction in its largest dimension; and
c) traverse through a 1 cm opening of arbitrary geometry and
reconstitute its original size and shape, in 15 seconds
Plus, obviously, be able to carry a meaningful payload (i.e. weapons)...
Bit scary, don't you think?