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 ")

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.' - HG Wells, 1898.

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...' - EM Forster, 1911.

Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.' - Isaac Asimov, 1954.

It's Time For Robots With Soft, Sensitive Skin
Sure, solid metal skin robots looked great once - like in science fiction movies of the 1920's.

 

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

Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...'

Pub Installs Electrified Fence Around Bar
'I start twelve immensely strong wires--naked, not insulated --from a big dynamo...'

What Does A Tesla Full Self-Driving Car See?
'All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures...'

BioVYZR Is Ready, Anti-Covid19 PAPR Lovers
'Some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'

Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'

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.