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

 

SuperBot Modular Robot Connects With NASA

SuperBot is a modular, multifunctional and reconfigurable robot, designed by Dr. Wei-Min Shen and his team at the Information Sciences Institute at USC. You might say that SuperBot is really a set of individual robots that work together to move around and solve problems. Dr. Shen has been awarded more than $8 million in grants from NASA, DARPA and the NSF to continue his research, including constructing a 100 module prototype to demonstrate how SuperBot might be used in space exploration.


(SuperBot youtube video ([skip to 1 minute mark])

Dr. Shen points out the limits of the current set of robotic devices used for space exploration:

One of the most challenging issues for human-centered long-range space exploration is performing complex tasks in environments that are not human-friendly.... the traditional approach of building separate robots for separate tasks (such as the Canada Arm and surface rovers) may no longer be adequate for affordable space exploration as the required robotic tasks become diverse and the need to pack many functionalities into a single launch volume increases.

Dr. Shen proposes the SuperBot modules as a way to meet this goal. Each module is a "robot" in its own right, with microcontrollers, sensors, communications, power supply, three degrees of freedom and six connecting faces to dynamically connect with other modules. At launch, or when landing, SuperBot can pack itself into a minimum amount of space.


(SuperBot modular robot)

Upon arrival, SuperBot can unpack itself and take any of a wide variety of forms. For example, it might form several exploration rovers, one SuperBot capable of rolling down hill, another twisting "sidewinder-style" over level sand while another forms a SuperBot climbing robot to take on more challenging terrain.


(SuperBot forms 'sidewinder' snakebot)

SuperBot will help NASA to reduce costs and simplify operations by reusing robotic components from mission to mission. If the robotic modules are truly interchangeable and interoperable, the need for redundant parts on a given mission can be reduced, thus lowering payload mass and cost. Mission reliabilty and safety would be enhanced, since the modules themselves would know how to perform tasks, and would require less active direction from astronauts or ground crews.

Dr. Shen hopes to have his 100 module SuperBot operational and ready for testing in a desert environment by 2008.

The following articles provide more information about similar robots:

  • Self-Replicating Modular Robots
    Each ten centimeter cube is an autonomous unit with a microprocessor and a set of instructions on how to link themselves with other modules.
  • TETWalker: Shape-Shifting Robot Swarm
    This bot is a prototype member of an autonomous nanotechnology swarm that can alter their shape to flow smoothly over rocky terrain.
Consider the living metal cubes from The Metal Monster, by Abraham Merritt, Published by Argosy All-Story Weekly in 1920.

Update 08-Feb-2017

Golden Age legend Jack Williamson wrote a great story titled The Infinite Enemy, published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938, in which an alternate universe is found to contain a being comprised of metallic cubes.

End update.

Read more at the SuperBot press release and in this short SuperBot project abstract (pdf).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/25/2007)

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 ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Auto-Targeting Fire Sprinkler Systems Now Reality
I think every kitchen should have one of these.

LEONARDO Robot Has Legs And Thrusters, Can Skateboard, Slackline
'a walking balloon proceeded with long strides of its aluminum legs over a slant of steep upland.' - George Parsons Lathrop, 1897.

Xavier Robots On Patrol For 'Anti-Social Behavior'
'This was as close as a robot could get to a cop in uniform.' Harry Harrison, 1958.

Pengxing Intelligent Robot Horse You Can Ride
'The horse reared up, pawing the air, then sprang into a gallop.' - Christopher Stasheff, 1969.

 

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

Jetson ONE Personal Electric Aerial Vehicle
Who says you can't have your flying car?

Starlab By Nanoracks, A Commercial Space Station
'Webb Foster had built his space laboratory... It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter.'

Auto-Targeting Fire Sprinkler Systems Now Reality
I think every kitchen should have one of these.

Monarch Tractor - It's Electric, Autonomous and Smart
'Driver-optional' and follows gestures.

'Seabreeze' Apple And UCLA Project To Beat Depression
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test,' the machine said peevishly.'

Hovermap By Emesent Autonomous Mapping Works Indoors - and Out
Perfect for exploring ancient artifacts on distant planets.

Sono Motor's Sion Sun-Powered Car
'...six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

LEONARDO Robot Has Legs And Thrusters, Can Skateboard, Slackline
'a walking balloon proceeded with long strides of its aluminum legs over a slant of steep upland.'

Xavier Robots On Patrol For 'Anti-Social Behavior'
'This was as close as a robot could get to a cop in uniform.'

Rotating House in Bosnia
'... feel free to turn the house on your own.'

Ingenious Engineer Creates DIY Feeding Robot
'Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

SpaceX Creates 'Tholian Web' Mega Constellation Of Satellites
'We shall not see home again!'

Do Smart Glasses Need Forward-Facing Cameras?
'They were stylish, with yellow-tinted lenses and hip frames, but the posts were unusually thick.'

Adorable One-Seater Electric Car From Wuxi Sinotech
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed...'

Zoom Adds Real-Time, Live Translation
'He immediately turned the small shining disc of the Language Rectifier..'

It's Spacewalk Sunday, Thanks To The ESA
'The delicious, indescribable pleasure of being a little planet swinging through space...'

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.