Flesh-Eating Robot Research Languishing

Flesh-eating robot research is not progressing as quickly as you might think. As you will learn, many of the pieces are in place.

First there was SlugBot, a robotic slug catcher that was able to autonomously identify and pick up bothersome garden pests.


(Slgbot 360 degree reach arm with light sensors)

But SlugBot is no mere battery-powered toy. SlugBot could hunt down up to 100 slugs per hours and then use their rotting bodies to generate electricity, thereby keeping itself running.

The choice of prey is deliberate; a robot must learn to catch slowly oozing prey, before it can run after more agile creatures. "Slugs are slow," said Dr. Ian Kelly, SlugBot's creator. "You can't expect the speeds of a cheetah chasing a zebra. Slugs are small and manageable."

SlugBot picks up its prey and feeds it gently into an on-board hopper. Although you wouldn't think that slugs would struggle or fight back, it can be a problem. "There is a problem with stopping the captured slugs from climbing out," Kelly said. "We may utilize a low-energy electronic shock system to keep them in the container."

After hunting slugs all night, the robot returns to its home base and dumps its victims into a fermentation tank, which turns the slugs into electricity to fuel another night's work.

Although SlugBot was an improbable winner of Time Magazine's 2001 Inventions of the Year award, I haven't seen them at my local home and garden store.

But not to worry. EcoBot-II was developed in 2004 by Melhuish, Greenman, Ieropoulos and Horsfield at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in the UK. EcoBot skips the fermentation tank step and is a fully self-contained predatory robot. EcoBot-II was able to run for 12 days after being fed 8 houseflies. However, it should be noted that it did not catch its own flies, relying instead upon willing human servants.


(EcoBot II)

Moving on to larger prey, reporters were alarmed last year when an erstwhile robotic gastronomist, an electromechanical sommelier, was created; the robot was able to identify wines, cheeses, meats and hors d'oeuvres. So far so good.

However, when a reporter placed his hand in the robot's jaw receptors, he was identified as bacon. When a cameraman tried the same test, he was identified as prosciutto.


(Robotic sommelier knows its pork)

This past year, French researchers have created an artificial mouth, to allow robots to taste in a rigorous way for the first time. “The artificial mouth is composed of a sample container (600 mL), a notched plunger, and variable-speed motors to control precisely the speed of compression and rotation movements. The container is maintained at 37 °C by means of a laboratory thermostat (Bioblock Scientific) via an outer layer. The container is sealed with a cap maintained by a circlip.”


(Robotic chewing device diagram)

Chewing is one thing, but could a robot even consume larger prey? You're wondering, I know. Take a look at this "rescue robot" that is able to consume a reclining human (watch where you nap).


(Tokyo fire department rescue robot pulls person in)

Anyway, it seems to me that the pieces are all in place. Perhaps we should be grateful that, on this occasion, the wheels of progress are moving more slowly. Thanks to Moira for suggesting this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/16/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Google Patents Douglas Adam's Genuine People Personalities For Robots
'Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities,' they said.'- Douglas Adams, 1979.

eMotionButterfly Ultralight Robot From Festo
'Artificial butterflies darted along invisible beams...'- Roger Zelazny, 1980.

Delightful Plen2 Mirror Robot - The Anti-Terminator
The anti-Terminator.

Petman Robot Pushes Itself To The Limit
'There was the butler robot, hard at work, his copper face expressionless...'- Frederik Pohl, 1954.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Rollkers Walking Skates
'Each had three small, rubber-covered wheels, one in front and two in the rear.'

Google Patents Douglas Adam's Genuine People Personalities For Robots
'Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities,' they said.'

Fix Michigan Roads, Or Get Hovercars?
'Dead for many years was the old concept of smooth, hard-surfaced, almost polished highways...'

eMotionButterfly Ultralight Robot From Festo
'Artificial butterflies darted along invisible beams...'

Graphene Cytobot - Cyborg Bacterial Spores May Help Astronauts
'[It] had not yet objected to being made over into a portion of an electronic system... '

XM82 Personal Flamethrower Now In Development
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Delightful Plen2 Mirror Robot - The Anti-Terminator
Time for fun, Will Robinson!

LiquiGlide Will Be Everywhere
'They poured the remnants of eggs out of their frictionless cups...'

US Customs Now Doing Facial Recognition At DC Airport
Are you who you say you are?

How Many Systems In That Galactic Empire Now?
'An Empire to twenty million stellar systems...'

Petman Robot Pushes Itself To The Limit
'There was the butler robot, hard at work, his copper face expressionless...'

Coleus LED 'Skylight' Dispenses Natural Sunlight Indoors
'How do they work it so that the sky is visible at every level of the city?'

UR3 Robot At Work On Copies Of Itself
'I don't mean that you should construct this ultra-microrobot with your own fingers, of course...'

3D Printing 'Terminator T-1000-Style'
Not quite 'a mimetic polyalloy...'

Norlin Shoe Drone Robot UAV In-Store Delivery Thing
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling.'

Bridge-MINDER Repair Robot
'The repair robots had started out on their rounds...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.