The video above features some of the many papers to be presented at SIGGRAPH Asia, a conference for computer graphics professionals. There are a lot of amazing things in there! Most notable is the one you will find at 2:05.
Given a specified rigid motion in one model (such as the one on the left) the program solves for simulated mechanisms that produce the desired motion (right). I assume the intent is to then use this information to produce plans for creating the actual automaton in the physical world.
You can learn more at SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 on the event web site.
[ Thanks John, Kendrick, and Ashok! ]