Military Robotics

iRobot Wins RFP to Create Liquid Shape-Shifting Robot

Posted 17 Jun 2008 at 16:15 UTC by jlin Share This

iRobot announced that it has won DARPA's RFP for a shape-shifting chemical robot. Nicknamed ChemBot, the robot should be "soft, flexible, mobile objects that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than their static structural dimensions; reconstitute size, shape, and functionality after traversal; carry meaningful payloads; and perform tasks." The iRobot team will include experts from Harvard and MIT, specializing in "chemistry, materials science, actuator technologies, electronics, sensors and fabrication techniques." Imagine: T-1000 from Terminator 2, come to life.

A robot that can pick up grains of sand!, posted 17 Jun 2008 at 16:49 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I really want to believe they can make one, I am very doubtful though. They scored $3 million, wow, you have to give them that! A real shape-shifting robot is many moons away - don't hold your breath.

What an engineering feat it will be! I could imagine trying to use such a robot that unconstitutes and reconstitutes via tiny electronics and tiny batteries. Imagine how hard it would be to not be picking up contaminates like sand, dust, oil, pets, bacteria or carpet. The robot could literally come alive with organisms or get bogged down and stuck in the simplest of materials! It can't be totally gooey like a jellyfish, it'll probably have a skeleton so how do you attach the goo to the skeleton? What about when it gets hot or cold or wet or dry or comes near magnetic fields or the barametric pressure changes. It seems like quite a chemist/physics/electronics/etc design challenge.

If they can get the first one made and working for $3 mill or less it will really be a bargain!

Even shape-shifting robots need a Mind., posted 18 Jun 2008 at 04:09 UTC by AI4U » (Observer)

The best shape-shifter in the world won't be any good without an artificial intelligence for a brain.

Grants for hobby robotics groups, posted 18 Jun 2008 at 15:25 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

DARPA should try something new, give $200k to each of 5 the most well-organized hobby robot groups around the nation, along with a goal of some sort, and see what they come up with. It would be a TINY investment and I bet they would be surprised at the ROI.

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