Cheap Microrobot Swarms
A small, inexpensive microrobot built on a single circuit board has been created by an international team of researchers.
(Microrobot is cheap and easy to manufacture)
Single-chip designs have previously been hard to design and manufacture. However, instead of soldering the components together using conventional methods:
'The modules are assembled using conductive adhesive with industrial surface mounting technology on a thin double-sided flexible printed circuit board. The final shape of the microrobots is achieved by folding the flexible printed circuit board twice.'
Different modules allow the robot to communicate, move, store energy, and collect data. The tiny robots, less than 4mm in any direction, contain a solar cell on top for power, and vibrating legs, three of which they use to move and one that acts as a touch sensor.
Although not powerful as individuals, the intent is to use the I-SWARM (intelligent small-world autonomous robots for micro-manipulation) concept to create ravening hordes of tiny robots working in concert to destroy even the mightiest works of man!
Well, okay, maybe that's getting a bit ahead of the actual technology. However, older readers of Stanislaw Lem have been nervously scanning their surroundings for these things ever since the 1954 publication of The Invincible.
"What is the nature of this cloud? What is your opinion?" he asked without any introductory remarks.
"It is made up of tiny metal particles. A remote-controlled emulsion, as it were, with uniform center," answered Jazon...
"...I believe them to be very tiny pseudo insects that, if necessary, and for their common good, can unite to form a superordinate system. This is the course taken by the evolution of the mobile mechanisms."
(Read more about Lem's nanomachine swarm)
I'd also add a reference to a more structured version of this idea, the Robot Cells (Crystal-Shaped Modules) from 1987 work by Michael P. Kube-McDowell.
Update: In his 1920 novel The Metal Monster, Abraham Merritt envisions this same idea, describing living metal cubes that work together to form different strutures "as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.":
"...They were such LITTLE THINGS," muttered Drake. "Such little things—bits of metal—little globes and pyramids and cubes—just little THINGS..."
"Bits of metal"—Dick's gaze sought mine, held it—"and they looked for each other, they worked with each other—THINKINGLY, CONSCIOUSLY—they were deliberate, purposeful—little things—and with the force of a score of dynamos—living, THINKING—"
Thanks to Blue Monkey for contributing the tip on this item. End update.
Here's a small swarm of related articles:
Via PhysOrg and Evaluation of building technology for mass producible millimetre-sized robots using flexible printed circuit boards (abstract only).
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/1/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.' - Harry Harrison, 1956
Rippling Fin Robot Drone Swims And Walks
'... the curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking and disturbing to the human beholder...' - HG Wells, 1898.
Cute Teddy Bear Robot Favorite Of Hospitalized Children
'...thought had been given to its programming.' - Anne McCaffrey, 1990.
Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.' - Anthony Boucher, 1943.
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.
TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'
Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'
Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'
Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'
Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'
DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'
Tether Asteroids To Save Us All
'If anything can glue the asteroids back into the planet they once were, magnology will do it.'
Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.
3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'...lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.'
R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
'He was still roaring when the knife missile flicked past him...'
Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.'
Perhaps You Might Be Interested In Habitable Exoplanet Moon Real Estate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.
SpaceX Will Build Floating Spaceports!
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'
Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation
'Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation...'
Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories