Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"I would say 75% of the economy is now being run by ex-science-fiction fans."
- Greg Bear

Robot Cells (Crystal-Shaped Modules)  
  Minute dodecahedral units that could combine into different shapes to become full robots.  

Robots today are build of distinct, single-purpose units - motors, power source, protective skin, hinges or other joints - and so forth. In the book, a radically new notion for building a robot is uncovered.

"At ten power, the surface is undifferentiated. Increasing magnification now. Granularity becoming evident. There seems to be a regular pattern. Pattern resolving now into hexagonal planar surfaces. Maximum magnification." The robot paused for a fraction of a second. "The surface appears to consist of twelve-sided solids in close association..."

[Derec] touched the connector to the stump end of the Supervisor arm, and it clung there as though it belonged... Almost instantly, the disembodied Supervisor arm slowly began to flex. "Look at the joint," Derec demanded. "Tell me what’s happening."

"The changes are taking place more quickly than my scan rate allows me to observe," the robot said. "However, I infer that the dodecahedrons are undergoing some type of directed rearrangement."

"Flowing into a new shape. The material of the arm is transforming itself."

"Those descriptors are imprecise but consistent with my observations. The technical term for such reorganization is morphallaxis."

Derec felt for his chair and sat down shakily. The Supervisors had been built out of billions of tiny crystalshaped modules-a cellular structure. Each had to contain kilometers of circuit connections, megabytes of programming. It was the cells that were the robots. The robots were more like organisms.

What a feat of engineering they represented - the essence of a robot in a package a few microns diameter. Properly programmed, they could take on any shape. A Supervisor was an infinity of specialized forms held within one generalized package.

From Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1, by Michael P. Kube-McDowell.
Published by Pocket i-Books in 1987
Additional resources -

The earliest version of this idea that I know about is the living metal cubes from the 1920 story The Metal Monster by Abraham Merritt.

Thanks to Dan Groves for contributing this item.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1
  More Ideas and Technology by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
  Tech news articles related to Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1
  Tech news articles related to works by Michael P. Kube-McDowell

Articles related to Robotics
Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
CommU Robot Children Scare Me
VelociRoACH Insect Robots Cooperate
Best Surgeon? The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

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.

 

 

 

 

More News

Man Filmed Sleeping In Tesla On Autopilot
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.'

Is This Robotic Hand As Quick As Yours?
'V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality...'

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'

Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.'

OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...'

Siemens 3D Printing Robot Spiders
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.