Flatcat Robot Recalls Both Heinlein And Simak

The Flatcat robot may be familiar to fans of both Robert Heinlein and Clifford Simak. It was a creative effort from Berlin-based robotics startup called Jetpack Cognition Lab.

At its core, the Flatcat is an ultra-simplified robot that reacts to touch by folding, twisting, and rolling its body into different shapes. It doesn’t appear as if it can easily locomote; it has no legs, but like an inchworm it seems it can rhythmically contract and expand its body to slowly creep across the floor. In other words, it can probably follow you—or hunt you down—if it so chooses.

Fans of Robert Heinlein instantly recognize the flatcat from his 1952 novel The Rolling Stones:

"Say, Mr. Angelo, what is this? At first I thought it was a fur cap; now I see it's alive." Castor pointed to the furry heap on the counter. It was slowly slithering toward the edge. The shopkeeper reached out and headed it back to the middle. "That? That's a 'flat cat.'
(Read more about Heinlein's flatcat)

As far as "it can probably follow you—or hunt you down", that makes science fiction readers think about the wonderful hunting robes from Clifford Simak's spectacular 1961 novel Time is the Simplest Thing:

"Isn't it a beauty?" [Grant] demanded. It was all of that. It was a fur of some sort and there was something about the fur itself that made it glitter in the fire light, as if someone had dusted it with tiny diamond fragments. It was a golden yellow with black stripes that ran diagonally and it had the look of silk rather than of fur...

Hunting dogs, thought Blaine. The cactus was a hunter and these were his hunting dogs. Or he was a trapper and these things were his traps...

Via Gizmodo; thanks to @nyrath for pointing it out to us.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/19/2021)

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