Metal Prices High Enough For Robot Sacrifice

Attention, robots! Now's the time to cash in on your metal body parts.

In spite of some declines in metal prices in the past week, demand is expected to increase in April through June. According to Barclay's Capital:

"Currently copper looks the tightest market from a fundamental perspective. We see a very substantial market deficit emerging in the first half of 2008 and inventories returning to all-time lows and prices testing all-time highs."
(From Metals Price Rally to Continue)

Science fiction fans may recall that in A Head in the Polls, Bender the robot sells his body in a pawnshop, reveling in the high price for titanium, one of his major components.


(Bender sells his body for cash)


(A mouthful of recycled robot cash)

However, many people, including sf fans, don't know that facing reuse and recycling can be very depressing for robots; see the comments of the robot cab driver in Philip K. Dick's A Present for Pat.

People are serious about recycling robots, though; just take a look at this list of metals, as well as other substances, that should be reused:

  • Cadmium - found in chip resistors, infrared detectors, semiconductors, and robotic batteries and cables.
  • Lead - found in the glass panels of computer monitors, in lead soldering of printed circuit boards, and semi-conductors found in industrial robots.
  • Mercury - found in cables connected to industrial robots, thermostats, position sensors, relays and switches on printed circuit boards.
  • Hexavalent Chromium or Chromium VI- can be used to protect against corrosion of untreated and galvanized steel plates and can be found in robotic semi-conductors, and robotic welding smoke.
    (From Industrial Robot Recycling)

I'm surprised that we haven't had more reports of human beings mining their own infrastructure for metal in the past few months. See Your Scrap Metal Future for more information on mining the skies, which is the phrase that Robert Heinlein used for this sort of recycling.

Perhaps we need to program robots to recycle themselves.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/25/2008)

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