Robot Fabricates Endless Tools For Itself (Updated)

I'm sure this has happened to you. You planned, you reviewed, you thought outside the box, but as soon as your robot gets to Mars and starts poking into things, you realize that the perfect tool ... is sitting back in the shop on Earth. What do you do?

Well, if you're Luzius Brodbeck of the Bio-Inspired Robotics Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, you made a robot that can fabricate its own tools on the spot! So no problem. Now, the video.


(Robot fabricates its own tools video)

Unlike a similar robot that can adapt its body shape using sprayable foam [see Spray-Foam Robot Built By... Another Robot], Brodbeck's robot constructs intricate tools. In the video above, for example, the robot makes itself a small scoop and then uses it to move water from one bowl to another.

The robots construct these new parts using hot-melt adhesive - a substance that can be switched repeatedly between liquid and solid states by controlling its temperature. Highly adhesive and pliable when heated, the material solidifies and forms strong bonds when cooled.

This raw material can be used to form new tools by itself or used to glue larger parts together - including new sensors or motors. The team have also demonstrated the fabrication of movable grippers. The work is presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vilamoura, Portugal, next week.

I can't think of an exact match for this idea, but readers might have thought of this spider robot from Charles Sheffield's 1979 novel The Web Between the Worlds which extrudes building materials from its own body:

As Rob watched, the great, faceted eyes turned towards him. The Spiders were aware of his presence. Somewhere deep in their organic components lurked a hint of consciousness.

Corrie had been fascinated by them from the first moment she saw one. "Why eight legs?" she had asked.

Rob had shrugged. "It extrudes material like a spider. How many legs would you have given it?

Update: Reader Nic Creznic points out that the ExoComps from Star Trek: The Next Generation had onboard "mini-replicators" to generate tools to meet unique circumstances:


(Exocomp)

The exocomp consisted of a micro-replicator, a boridium power converter and axionic chip network. This axionic network gave the exocomp formidable computational power. The micro-replicator not only created tools which the exocomp could use to solve problems but also created new circuit pathways in the exocomps memory when it performed new tasks. This mechanism gave the exocomp the ability to learn. The more tasks it had to perform, the more pathways were formed in its memory.

End update.

Fans of the Terrahawks! might be thinking of the Cubes, which could work together to create unique shapes to solve problems. in one episode they club together to form a forcefield trapping Hudson, Kate and Dr Ninestein, and in another episode they join together to create a powerful cannon attack.


(The Cubes from Terrahawks!)

Via New Scientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/4/2012)

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 ")

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...' - Harry Harrison, 1956.

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...' - Clifford Simak, 1944.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'

Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'

Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...

Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'

DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.

President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'

Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'

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.