Wednesday, May 11, 2005

self cloning robots

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hod lipson and colleagues at cornell university have created the first self-cloning robot (video here). when reading that headline, i originally got really excited - it's not that kind of cloning though, but it's still neat. one robot structure is able to assemble a new robot from transferring information and rotating blocks around, so that a larger structure of these smaller cubes could "clone" itself if it were given a pile of similar robotic cubes to work with - but it can't fabricate these cubes on its own. the robot is composed of identical blocks that can swivel around to connect or disconnect to each other through magnetics, allowing it to construct and deconstruct itself at will. lipson and colleagues are planning on miniaturizing the technology, eventually creating something small enough that it could be really impressive - able to work with itself to build any structure, form legs to walk over obstacles, etc. if these small blocks could somehow communicate with more traditional robot interfaces, you could have the form or body be self-assembling, self changing, while still having the dynamic tools and interfaces of traditional robots, that might be less able to self-form or repair. full article at new scientist

nasa is also working on something similar with the nano-scaled tetwalker, which i wrote about a few weeks ago.

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