Robot Fabricates Endless Tools For Itself (Updated)

I'm sure this has happened to you. You planned, you reviewed, you thought outside the box, but as soon as your robot gets to Mars and starts poking into things, you realize that the perfect tool ... is sitting back in the shop on Earth. What do you do?

Well, if you're Luzius Brodbeck of the Bio-Inspired Robotics Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, you made a robot that can fabricate its own tools on the spot! So no problem. Now, the video.


(Robot fabricates its own tools video)

Unlike a similar robot that can adapt its body shape using sprayable foam [see Spray-Foam Robot Built By... Another Robot], Brodbeck's robot constructs intricate tools. In the video above, for example, the robot makes itself a small scoop and then uses it to move water from one bowl to another.

The robots construct these new parts using hot-melt adhesive - a substance that can be switched repeatedly between liquid and solid states by controlling its temperature. Highly adhesive and pliable when heated, the material solidifies and forms strong bonds when cooled.

This raw material can be used to form new tools by itself or used to glue larger parts together - including new sensors or motors. The team have also demonstrated the fabrication of movable grippers. The work is presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vilamoura, Portugal, next week.

I can't think of an exact match for this idea, but readers might have thought of this spider robot from Charles Sheffield's 1979 novel The Web Between the Worlds which extrudes building materials from its own body:

As Rob watched, the great, faceted eyes turned towards him. The Spiders were aware of his presence. Somewhere deep in their organic components lurked a hint of consciousness.

Corrie had been fascinated by them from the first moment she saw one. "Why eight legs?" she had asked.

Rob had shrugged. "It extrudes material like a spider. How many legs would you have given it?

Update: Reader Nic Creznic points out that the ExoComps from Star Trek: The Next Generation had onboard "mini-replicators" to generate tools to meet unique circumstances:


(Exocomp)

The exocomp consisted of a micro-replicator, a boridium power converter and axionic chip network. This axionic network gave the exocomp formidable computational power. The micro-replicator not only created tools which the exocomp could use to solve problems but also created new circuit pathways in the exocomps memory when it performed new tasks. This mechanism gave the exocomp the ability to learn. The more tasks it had to perform, the more pathways were formed in its memory.

End update.

Fans of the Terrahawks! might be thinking of the Cubes, which could work together to create unique shapes to solve problems. in one episode they club together to form a forcefield trapping Hudson, Kate and Dr Ninestein, and in another episode they join together to create a powerful cannon attack.


(The Cubes from Terrahawks!)

Via New Scientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/4/2012)

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 ")

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but shows real promise.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.' - Philip K. Dick

 

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

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

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.