Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Shapeshifter Robot Is Comprised Of Cobots

It's a flying robot - it's an amphibious robot - it's an explorer of alien worlds. It's NASA's Shapeshifter robot.

In a dusty robotics yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the Shapeshifter team is testing a 3D-printed prototype of this unusual explorer. A contraption that looks like a drone encased in an elongated hamster wheel rolls across the yard, then splits in half. Once separated, the two halves rise on small propellers, effectively becoming flying drones for aerial exploration. These 3D-printed parts are only the beginning; the team imagines a series of up to 12 robots that could transform into a swimming probe or a team of cave explorers.

JPL Principal Investigator Ali Agha envisions Shapeshifter as a mission to Saturn's moon Titan, the only other world in the solar system known to have liquid in the form of methane lakes, rivers and seas on its surface...

Agha and his Shapeshifter co-investigators, who include researchers from Stanford and Cornell universities, came up with the concept of a self-assembling robot made of smaller robots called "cobots." The cobots, each housing a small propeller, would be able to move independent of one another to fly along cliffsides of scientific interest. They could also go spelunking, forming a daisy chain to maintain contact with the surface. Or they could transform into a sphere to roll on flat surfaces and conserve energy.

(Via JPL.)

In his 1920 classic short story The Metal Monster, Abraham Merritt described a multipart robot that functioned as a single entity:

Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases; the six rolling spheres touched them, joined the spinning, and with sleight-of-hand suddenness the ring drew together; its units coalesced, cubes and pyramids and globes threading with a curious suggestion of ferment.

With the same startling abruptness there stood erect, where but a moment before they had seethed, a little figure, grotesque; a weirdly humorous, a vaguely terrifying foot-high shape, squared and angled and pointed and ANIMATEóas though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.
(Read more about living metal cubes)

I'd also mention Philip K. Dick's M from his 1957 short story The Unreconstructed M.

NASA has a longtime fascination with the idea of shapeshifting robots. Take a look at TETWalker: Shape-Shifting Robot Swarm and NASA TeTWalker Shape-Shifting Robot Update. Here's a futuristic idea that takes Shapeshifter another step along - BitDrones Flying Microbots Model Programmable Matter.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/27/2019)

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 ")

PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.' - Frank Herbert, 1965.

3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!

Flatcat Robot Recalls Both Heinlein And Simak
Sorry, you'll need to read the article.

Solar Powered Robot Cleans Up Solar Panels For Free
'... with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length of Rama's six artificial suns.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Autonomous Russian Greenhouse For ISS Wheat
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight, planted with everything imaginable, that supplied the necessary food.'

NASA MOXIE Extracts Oxygen From Mars' Air
'Making oxygen is the trick...'

Implantable Covid-Detecting Microchip Developed By DARPA
'Employees... were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'

SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."

Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'

Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'

Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'

Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'

Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'

Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'

Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'

PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'

Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'Itís an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'

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.