Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"Science fiction is the very literature of change. In fact, it is the only such literature we have."
- Frederik Pohl

Robot Cells (Crystal-Shaped Modules)  
  Minute dodecahedral units that could combine into different shapes to become full robots.  

Robots today are build of distinct, single-purpose units - motors, power source, protective skin, hinges or other joints - and so forth. In the book, a radically new notion for building a robot is uncovered.

"At ten power, the surface is undifferentiated. Increasing magnification now. Granularity becoming evident. There seems to be a regular pattern. Pattern resolving now into hexagonal planar surfaces. Maximum magnification." The robot paused for a fraction of a second. "The surface appears to consist of twelve-sided solids in close association..."

[Derec] touched the connector to the stump end of the Supervisor arm, and it clung there as though it belonged... Almost instantly, the disembodied Supervisor arm slowly began to flex. "Look at the joint," Derec demanded. "Tell me what’s happening."

"The changes are taking place more quickly than my scan rate allows me to observe," the robot said. "However, I infer that the dodecahedrons are undergoing some type of directed rearrangement."

"Flowing into a new shape. The material of the arm is transforming itself."

"Those descriptors are imprecise but consistent with my observations. The technical term for such reorganization is morphallaxis."

Derec felt for his chair and sat down shakily. The Supervisors had been built out of billions of tiny crystalshaped modules-a cellular structure. Each had to contain kilometers of circuit connections, megabytes of programming. It was the cells that were the robots. The robots were more like organisms.

What a feat of engineering they represented - the essence of a robot in a package a few microns diameter. Properly programmed, they could take on any shape. A Supervisor was an infinity of specialized forms held within one generalized package.

From Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1, by Michael P. Kube-McDowell.
Published by Pocket i-Books in 1987
Additional resources -

The earliest version of this idea that I know about is the living metal cubes from the 1920 story The Metal Monster by Abraham Merritt.

Thanks to Dan Groves for contributing this item.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1
  More Ideas and Technology by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
  Tech news articles related to Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1
  Tech news articles related to works by Michael P. Kube-McDowell

Articles related to Robotics
When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

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.

 

 

 

 

More News

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.'

Sweden Outlaws Drones
'An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.