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Robotics Technology

Robot Composed of "Catoms" Can Assume Any Form 168

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live dept.
philetus writes "An article in New Scientist describes a robotic system composed of swarms of electromagnetic modules capable of assuming almost any form that is being developed by the Claytronics Group at Carnegie Mellon. 'The grand goal is to create swarms of microscopic robots capable of morphing into virtually any form by clinging together. Seth Goldstein, who leads the research project at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, in the US, admits this is still a distant prospect. However, his team is using simulations to develop control strategies for futuristic shape-shifting, or "claytronic", robots, which they are testing on small groups of more primitive, pocket-sized machines.'"
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Robot Composed of "Catoms" Can Assume Any Form

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  • by RobertNotBob (597987) * on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:47PM (#22267172)
    I, for one, welcome our new replicator Overlords.

    • by sam_paris (919837) on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:10PM (#22267506)
      T-1000 Cat is watching you masturbate! >.
    • by aled (228417)
      we are doomed I tell you. Doomed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Doomed? You, maybe.
        Me, being a trusted slashdot personality, am sure our new overlords will see how convenient to have someone like me at their side.
        I, for one, welcome our new t1000 overlords! Be their reign long and fruitful!
        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Doomed? You, maybe.
          Me, being a trusted slashdot personality, am sure our new overlords will see how convenient to have someone like me at their side.
          Sure, I can see it from here :

          T1000 : Are those the slashdotters ? Right, sort yourself by karma ! ...
          T1000 : Quicksort please ! ...
          T1000 : T100, take the half at the back away for recycling.

    • by Pollardito (781263) on Friday February 01, 2008 @08:23PM (#22268842)
      ...but i suggest to our future overlords that Voltronic is a much snappier name than claytronic
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sempernoctis (1229258)
      I do feel compelled to note that every time something like this is developed in a movie or TV show, it ends up nearly killing everyone within the scope of the show. Stargate. Star Trek. Terminators 2 & 3. Hell, even Dr. Who had to stop them in the first season of the new series.
    • by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:27PM (#22269308) Homepage Journal
      And of all slashdot stories, *this* doesn't have "whatcouldgowrong"....
      • "...he research project at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, in the US..." - I am very glad that the poster clarified which Pittsburgh CMU was in. The uninformed person, who might not have known where CMU was located and would therefore have to reason out whether this was a Pittsburgh in the USA, the one in Japan, in Mali, or the one in Germany (The German city is a suburb of Cheeseburgh)

        The question is, which Pittsburgh is it located in, in the US?
  • Tag (Score:4, Funny)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:47PM (#22267174)
    I suggest the tag "Prey", for all of you Michael Crichton fans.
    • by MrSteveSD (801820)
      I thought they were supposed to have been making that into a film.
    • by pi415 (1231566)
      Except for the fact that prey bots can self-reproduce, are based on biotech, and evolve on their own! Doesn't seem like a good tag to me.
    • by spun (1352)
      How about "Christmasbush" [cmu.edu] for all the Robert Forward or Hans Moravec fans.
    • by morcego (260031)

      I suggest the tag "Prey", for all of you Michael Crichton fans.


      Why ? Aren't "greygoo" and "predprey" good enough ? :)
  • Obvious comment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rakuen (1230808)
    Transformers! Robots in disguise!
  • Any relation to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_fog [wikipedia.org] utility foglets?
    • I could use a few of those, and the associated programmer...I can think of a lot of things I could use 'em for.
  • by alta (1263) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:50PM (#22267212) Homepage Journal
    Oh my goodness, those people obviously never watched stargate! They're making replicators! They are swarms of robots that can assume any form. The only way to stop them is for MacGuyver to stick his head in some ancient machine to gain their knowledge. Then he'll develope a super weapon that looks like a BFG3000 that will shoot waves at them causing them to disassociate with each other and fall to the ground like a pile of leggos. But that's only enough to stop a few of them, the REAL solution is to link all the stargates together at once (anyone seen baal?) and then send said 'waves of magical energy' through the one closest to T'ealc.

    Someone shoot them before they doom us all!!!
    • by grantek (979387)
      ...and even [i]THAT[/i] didn't work (cf. Atlantis)
      • by grantek (979387)
        Hmm, it appears the lolcatoms are upgrading my brain, and haven't got around to restoring the distinction between HTML and square-bracketed forum code :/
        • First Replicators and now Cybermen? WE'RE DOOOOMED!
        • i can has zwix armey niphee, ducked tape, and gum rappr?
      • by ArcherB (796902) *

        Oh my goodness, those people obviously never watched stargate! They're making replicators! They are swarms of robots that can assume any form. The only way to stop them is for MacGuyver to stick his head in some ancient machine to gain their knowledge. Then he'll develope a super weapon that looks like a BFG3000 that will shoot waves at them causing them to disassociate with each other and fall to the ground like a pile of leggos. But that's only enough to stop a few of them, the REAL solution is to link all the stargates together at once (anyone seen baal?) and then send said 'waves of magical energy' through the one closest to T'ealc.

        Someone shoot them before they doom us all!!!

        ...and even [i]THAT[/i] didn't work (cf. Atlantis)

        If they only had a deflector dish to reroute those waves through, it just might have worked!!

        • by meatspray (59961)
          *stocks up on lantern batteries and large nails*
        • by Fred_A (10934)

          If they only had a deflector dish to reroute those waves through, it just might have worked!!
          Shouldn't they have reversed the polarity first ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)
      either that or they end up using our "inferior" alloys instead of those fancy asguard alloys that don't rust. there's a reason they didn't compromise the hull integrity of that nuclear sub or the asguard ships. They are vulnerable to heat and apparently anything that damages the alloys they've used to make themselves out of.
    • I think maybe someone watches too much Stargate... although the same thought did cross my mind, I don't think I could've come up with all the references in the series off the top of my head in four minutes...
    • by JustOK (667959)
      it's pronounced T'ealc
    • It's all okay, though. On Atlantis, McKay can just reprogram them.
    • by chord.wav (599850)
      Great!! Now I don't need to watch it! You saved me what? 2 complete seasons? Thanks for saving my time man!!

      I can tell you about Lost to compensate you. The 3 full seasons.

      And no, I'm not being ironic, I truly and sincerely mean it.
    • Remember the replicators where originally developed by an android(who thought she was human) and was for protection. Then she lost control of them and all hell broke loose. So they arn't replicators yet but they are getting there.
  • by martinQblank (1138267) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:51PM (#22267234)
    ...The best part of being a Super Villian is the Doomsday devices!
  • Well, at least it can only form sharp, stabbing weapons. I just hope they're creating another robot to save us from it.
  • Terminator II here we come!
    • In your dreams... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spy der Mann (805235)
      Terminator II here we come!

      Well, we'd need two types of nanobots, or give them a double function: One type can bend and expand like a muscle cell to provide mobility. The other type needs to function as a skeleton (exo or endo, you choose).
      How will you supply the energy to nanobots? And how is that energy going to be transmitted to different parts of the body? How will it be stored? And if it's in the form of liquid, you'll need blood vessels too. Also, if the design of the form that you're going to emulate
  • Catoms? (Score:5, Funny)

    by StCredZero (169093) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:54PM (#22267276)
    Oh Hai! I haz a covalent bond?
  • by billstewart (78916) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:54PM (#22267280) Journal
    Herds of tiny cat robots? Cool - that'll go well with the Evil Laugh and the Monocle! [slashdot.org]
  • Bisexuals could have a robotic, hermaphroditic sex partner.

    Yeah, I know, I'm a sick puppy.....

  • Obviously Longcat created the universe using Catoms only for it to be corrupted by the evil Tacgnol.
  • Anyone that has read Alistair Reynold's Revelation Ark sees a disaster coming with this little buggers.
    • They are called the Inhibitors... but in his mythos they were created by a long dead race during the dawn wars, millions of years before humanity sprang up.... and whose purpose was to stop new life from becoming space-faring species...

      not that I read sci-fi books or anything ;-p

  • capable of assuming almost any form that is being developed by the Claytronics Group at Carnegie Mellon
    How many forms are being developed by the Clatronics Group?
  • pokey pokey (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:13PM (#22267544) Homepage Journal
    Wha... "claytronic" robots?

    I never foresaw that the machines that take over the world in the future would look like Gumby...
  • by commisaro (1007549) on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:18PM (#22267622) Homepage
    One of the coolest potential applications of this is for Holographic-type communication. Perhaps not the 3D light-type display envisioned by Star-Wars and the like, but these could potentially mimic the form of someone for the purposes of communication. Also, games!
  • Claymation (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 @ a n t h o n y m clin.com> on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:23PM (#22267684) Homepage
    Unfortunately they'll only be able to make one incredibly small movement ever 6 hours or so.
  • by jamrock (863246) on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:30PM (#22267772)

    This sounds like the clarketech* that the Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow [egmcartech.com] concept has been waiting for. At the 2057 Robocar Design Challenge in Los Angeles last year (wherein car manufacturers touted concepts for cars 50 years from now), Mercedes showed off "SilverFlow", a shape-changing car that melts into a pool of liquid metal when not in use. The vehicle's shape would be tailored for different usage scenarios through programming, and the entire concept revolves around micro-particles that combine in varied ways. But is this really feasible though? I suppose that it's within the realms of possibility, but are there any serious deal-breakers that could derail this vision? Any thoughts?

    *From Arthur C. Clarke's well-known aphorism about sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic, "clarketech" refers to tech so advanced that we don't know as yet how it would work. Love the term.

    • by amRadioHed (463061) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:20PM (#22269256)

      Mercedes showed off "SilverFlow", a shape-changing car that melts into a pool of liquid metal when not in use.
      I used to have a Chevy that sorta did that. I mean not the shape-changing thing, but it did form a big pool of liquid wherever I parked it.
    • This could allow new kinds of wheels - I'm thinking of the smartwheels from Snow Crash. Depending on how fast the stuff moves one could even coat the entire underside of a car in it and have the car move by rippling it to the back, being in contact with the ground across the entire floor. It would essentially work like a combination between Sargeant Schlock and The Luggage.

      (Three entirely different pop culture references in one post. Way to go making myself ununderstandable...)
      • by jamrock (863246)
        Your concept was called the "Slugdrive" some years ago; they postulated a cruising speed of 300 mph or thereabouts. Forget where I read about it. And I got two of your three pop culture references, by the way. I loved the idea of the smartwheels in "Snow Crash" and I'm a huge fan of Schlock Mercenary (does it go without saying that I'm in love Dr. Bunnigus?); but what was "The Luggage"?
    • Can you imagine a collision in one of these things? Say you're about to plow into a wall at 60mph, only just before it happens, the car suddenly goes liquid around you and creates a jelly-like crumple zone at the front, while the rest of the car reconfigures itself to push your body as far to the back as it can possibly go, before finally encasing you in a solid immobilization shell that self repairs any damage it takes until the energy of the impact has dispersed.

      Kinda makes the foam filling car from Demol
  • Until they can replicate Scarlet Johanson or Natalie Portman, it sounds pretty worthless to me.
  • They're obviously "Trillions".
  • Can we just give up the game, please? This is obviously an advance introduction of the replicator technology gathered from the off-world explorations of our "stargate" program. Yes, just like SG-1 which was produced to created "plausible deniability" in case information leaked.

    Yes, I realize that was a plot on one of the shows -- creating a show about the "real" stargate program, but that plotline was only created to create "plausible deniability" in case information about the real effort to create plausibl
  • ... which involved a shape-shifting cyborg sex-tox that had been retro-fitted reprogrammed with combat AI and arms and was composed of smart dust that could formed an indefinite amount of shapes around a centralized core CPU. She was a piece of ass that could kick ass.
  • by Nullav (1053766)
    I don't think I'd want to be made out of these nanobots. Just imagine what it would be like to lose an arm in mid-handshake.
  • As if people didn't have enough on their plates worrying about the rats and boa constrictors coming up their toilets.
  • ...Summer Glau, I for one welcome our new hottie killbot overlords.

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