PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?

NASA is working hard on PUFFERs (Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots) which, I'm sure, has some sort of good scientific intention. As we know, the road to hell is so paved.

Sometimes, I just have to shake my head.


(PUFFER Robot [Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots])

PUFFERs (Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots) utilize a folding printed circuit board (PCB) as the rover chassis, which enables the platform to fold into a minuscule, palm-sized volume. With this feature, many PUFFERs can be integrated into future spacecraft or packed into Earth science experiments at low cost.

The multitude of PUFFERs would then be used to carry out science investigations that specifically require a distributed, multi-unit approach, such as entering cave formations on Mars or conducting spatially-distributed topographic mapping of ice on Earth. In addition to small packing volume, PUFFER's folding chassis provides unique mobility benefits; PUFFERs can collapse into a low-profile "crouch" to crawl beneath tight terrain features, such as overhung rocks, and to lower their center of gravity for ascending steep inclines. The highly-flexible origami-inspired chassis also provides impact-absorbing capabilities, allowing PUFFER to survive great falls.

The units would recharge themselves using solar energy, allowing them to operate for months and possibly years at a time...


(PUFFERs acting like screamers)

Fans of sf great Philip K. Dick recall the claws from his 1953 short story Second Variety:

"It doesn't take them long. Not after the first one gets in. It goes wild. You know what the little claws can do. Even one of these is beyond belief. Razors, each finger. Maniacal."

Off to the right something scuttled, something round and metallic. A claw, going lickety-split after something. Probably after a small animal, a rat. They got rats, too. As a sort of sideline.

The claws got faster and they got bigger. New types appeared, some with feelers, some that flew. There were a few jumping kinds...

Some of the little claws were learning to hide themselves, burrowing down into the ash, lying in wait.

And they started getting into bunkers, slipping down when the lids were raised for air and a look around. One claw inside a bunker, a churning sphere of blades and metal - that was enough. And when one got in others followed.

This short story was the inspiration for the 1995 film Screamers.


(Claws - or Screamers - from the 1995 movie)

Via PhysOrg.

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