Science

Self-Replicating Robot News

Posted 13 May 2005 at 16:02 UTC by steve Share This

News stories about a new self-replicating robot seem to be replicating faster than the robots themselves based on the number of links The Swirling Brain has sent our way about this new robot. A Yahoo! News story says each robot, made of 10cm cubes, can replicate themselves every 2.5 minutes as long as the appropriate raw materials are available. An MSNBC story offers photos and video of the twisty little robots. Wired also offers video and photos in their cleverly titled story, "Go Forth and Multiply, Little Bot". There is also a LinuxInsider article mentioning that the robots are made of "molecubes". Finally, the definitive article is the original Cornell press release which has lots more photos. For more technical information, step-by-step photos, and a cut-away diagram of the internal mechanisms visit the Self Replication research site at Cornell. The Researchers also provide an article describing the machines (PDF format) and a paper titled, "Spontaneous emergence of self-replicating, competing cube species in physical cube automata" (PDF format).


Want more?, posted 13 May 2005 at 16:06 UTC by steve » (Master)

Just after posting the story, another user submitted a link to a story in The Register on the same self-replicating robots. It's pretty funny with choice quotes about the "apocalypse cube" such as "a Cornell University research team has developed a self-replicating cube which has the ability to assemble itself into civilisation-threatening configurations"...

CORE and Remembrance, posted 13 May 2005 at 17:57 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

Doesn't this thing remind you of the "CORE" cube robot nutter that always plagued the alt.robotics newsgroups for so long!

IT's hard for me to be impressed with this seemingly major achievement. I mean, this thing is a bunch of premade robot blocks! All this thing is doing is moving them into a various piles! This, in my opinion, can barely be called reproducing and the premade blocks can hardly be called raw materials. But, I guess symantics rules the day as they are using terms like "feeding trough" as the place where the robot can pick up more raw materials (premade blocks). All these terms (reproducing, raw materials, and feeding trough) are all stretching it a bit to claim their great achievement! I mean is it an achievement? I suppose it is, but again all the media coverage over so trivial an achievement? Wow! I mean I'm sure this thing is hardcoded to move these blocks into position and that's probably all it can do. So you start with X number of blocks and it produces, nothing. You still have X number of blocks. Lets put some metal and ICs, resistors, some batteries, a breadboard and a soldering iron in a room and when a robot can reproduce itself as a human would make a robot from real raw materials I'd be more impressed. At least have the premade blocks be in two (or more) pieces that have to be put together. But I guess, as with all robotics, we just take baby steps. Again, sorry for my lack of being impressed. Perhaps I should be more impressed but I'm not.

Another user writes, posted 13 May 2005 at 18:52 UTC by dogsbody_d » (Master)

I'm gonna say that I greet this with a mixed bag. What they've done is alright, but hardly what's being claimed.

Okay, they're not making robots from raw materials. I've seen it mentioned that humans don't make humans from raw materials either. We get bacteria, plants, and animals to make building blocks for us. We just assemble them. <<cough>> semantics<<cough>>

As an exercise in modular/cellular/reconfigurable robotics this is er... alright. If we send a load of cubes to Mars then they can assemble themselves into lots of different types of robot. Looking at the way that they can revolve, I'd like to see them try to use outer blocks as wheels... The cubes mean that the composite robots can essentially repair themselves. However, the demonstration that we can see seems to involve the cubes clamping themselves to a special floor. For that matter, how come those spare cubes magically appear?

Someone on <HREF="www.oaps.org">Old Age Playstationers</A> noted that they look like chips. Personally I think they look well creepy.

Automatic construction, posted 13 May 2005 at 20:33 UTC by motters » (Master)

Similar robots have been in development for some years now. I doubt that civilisation is at any real risk, but this sort of self-assembling technology will be very useful indeed. The obvious application is in the construction industry.

Traditionally assembling architectural structures such as houses or offices has been a highly expensive and labour intensive business. Provided that these robots can be made at negligable cost and are sufficiently robust they could be used to eliminate a lot of labour from the construction process. Just have a truck dump a load of these at the required site, then use a wireless network signal to program each cube with the necessary program and then leave them to it. Once the self-assembly process is completed another wireless network signal fixes the entire structure permanently in place.

If at some later date the council wants to drive a motorway through your house (Hitchhiker's guide style) a wireless network signal along with the appropriate security code is used to unfix and dissasemble the structure, and the cubes can then be completely recycled. It would be very straightforward and economical, with little or no waste.

I remember the cube concept!, posted 14 May 2005 at 03:11 UTC by ROB.T. » (Master)

Personally, I'm impressed.

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