Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice

Behold mighty IceBot! Okay, the actual IceBot is a small proof-of-concept model that only weighs about twenty pounds. But, what an idea!

IEEE Spectrum: Where did this idea come from, and why do you think it hasn’t been tried before?
Devin Carroll: The first robot I designed was a tram robot for ecologists to use to survey forests. One of the challenges to making robots for this field is not only are robots expensive but the natural elements will break them given time. Mark and I started exploring the idea of building robots from found material as a way to add robustness to robotic systems operating in remote or hostile environments with a secondary goal of reducing the cost of the system. We ultimately settled on ice because of the design flexibility it affords us and the current interest in icy, remote environments... if we could build a robot from ice, perhaps it could be used to assist in exploring icy planets for life and data collection.
I would argue this hasn't been done before because of the uncertainty that using ice brings. Unlike traditional building material, the designer does not know a priori what conditions will cause the ice to fail—we can make an educated guess, but the margin for error is much higher. There are also complications associated with making the robot and getting it to the site safely. If we build it and then ship it to the deployment site it must be kept cold throughout its journey whereas if we make it at the deployment site we must also ship a manufacturing site with the system, increasing the overall monetary and energy costs associated with the system.

Can you speculate about what an arctic (or planetary) exploration robot might look like if it incorporated a self modification or repair capability?
When I think of an arctic (or planetary) exploration robot that incorporates self-modification or repair capabilities I envision a system with two types of robots—the first explores the environment and collects materials needed to perform self-augmentation or repair, and the second is some sort of manipulator/manufacturing system. We can envision the exploration class of robot returning to a centralized location with a request for a plow or some other augmentation and the manufacturing system will be able to attach the augmentation directly to the robot. Similarly with repair—if, for example, a robot recognizes a crack, the manipulator would be able to patch the crack using an ice band-aid of sorts, sealing the crack and preventing it from propagating further.
Part of my dissertation includes work towards this effort. In terms of the manipulator/end effector design, one idea we are exploring is using a mesh of resistance wire to locally melt surfaces of ice blocks and create a temporary connection between the block of ice and manipulator while we maneuver and machine it to a desired geometry.

(Via IEEE Spectrum.)

If you had asked me where this idea came from, I'd say that it came from Greg Bear, who wrote about this idea in his 2005 novel Killing Titan. It does't make sense to carry all of the materials for vehicles and weapons all the way to Titan, when you can find all the materials you could ever want right there, quick to hand.

These organic compounds will provide plenty of the raw materials used by our weapon and vehicle seeds to double and even triple their present mass...

"These are your rudimentary seed packages," Bueller says. "Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes. Others will take more time and grow out to full size by themselves, mostly the vehicles supporting big weapons - zap guns, ionics, penetrators. Once placed in their cradles beside the station, all the seeds will dip from the station storage tanks, and they'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere...

(Read more about vehicle seeds

In the novel, enormous ships and vehicles are effectively grown from ice, for use in fighting and exploration.

And the goddamnedest, most primordial-looking machines we’ve yet seen. As big as destroyers, bronze and silver, with a dozen segments and lateral tree lines of ornately fringed legs for carving and crawling and digging—for burrowing deep through ice and rock into the interior oceans of Titan, and for tangling with, and surviving, other monsters.

These machines come with their own problems and weaknesses, natcherly, and no certainty there’ll be enough material down there to allow them to grow to full size or reach full armament. In which case, we might have to scavenge the surface of Titan and hunt for machine corpses before we can dive deep.

See also http://ras.papercept.net/images/temp/IROS/files/2114.pdf.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/1/2021)

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 ")

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.' - Frank Herbert, 1965.

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody' Philip K. Dick, 1954.

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.' - Maurice G. Hugi, 1941.

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'

Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'

BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

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.