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Tower To Be Built By Flying Robots

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the quadrocopter-bots-to-unionize dept.

Robotics 58

Zothecula writes with an excerpt from an article in Gizmag: "The FRAC Centre in Orléans, France will for the first time host an exhibition to be built entirely by flying robots. Titled 'Flight Assembled Architecture,' the six meter-high tower will be made up of 1,500 prefabricated polystyrene foam modules. The installation involves a fleet of quadrocopters that are programmed to interact, lift, transport and assemble the final tower, all the time receiving commands wirelessly from a local control room."

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It would be better if ... (2, Funny)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199930)

The flying robots assembled a tower of topless female college cheerleaders.

Flying Styroform boxes ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200090)

And you expect us to believe flying styroform boxes with propellers gonna build towers?

but can they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38199938)

But can they build an inverted pyramid underground is the question..

Cost benefit ratio (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199942)

I wonder if it would have been cheaper to make every component a flying robot and just have them assemble themselves.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199972)

If you shop around, you can find bricks for less than a dollar each. Quadrocopters are getting cheaper all the time, but they're not that cheap yet.

-jcr

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199978)

If you make thousands of them the price shouldn't be that far off. Your helicopters now only have to lift themselves, once.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (2)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200022)

If you shop around, you can find bricks for less than a dollar each.

Yes, but as the article* pointed out, this tower is not made of 99c bricks, but prefabricated polystyrene foam modules. Which could be cheap, but most probably are one-offs that are reasonably expensive to manufacture in the quantities required.

You need to revisit your cost-benefit ratio if you're basing it around 99c bricks.

* I know its not fashionable to read the article here on slashdot, but it mentions this right in the summary.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200082)

More likely, I think, that they have just bought some large polystyrene blocks and cut bricks out of them to the required size using run of the mill polystyrene cutting tools. From the picture in the gizmag.com [gizmag.com] article, the blocks used in the construction look like they are all regularly shaped and sized "bricks", so I doubt that the per brick cost would be all that much, and almost certainly no way near a dollar each.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (3, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200070)

Presumably, you have to pay someone to lay those bricks. If you can make a $2 brick that lays itself, you might start getting close to parity. Not that I think we're there yet, but it is cool to think about.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38206186)

isn't that what the robots are for? instead of paying the bricklayer a wage to support a family, you spend a couple years worth of his pay on these robots, and after a few buildings they pay for themselves. bricklayer gets a new job fixing the robots. or evolution weeds him out. take your pick.

Less than a dollar? That's cheap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38200658)

[insert '8x8x16 Cement Block - $1' Craigslist ad here]

Re:Cost benefit ratio (5, Funny)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200000)

Not only would that be incredibly awesome to watch, but in case of natural disasters the building could pre-emptively disassemble to prevent total destruction. Of course, the building's inhabitants would need to cling to the nearest robot component for dear life whilst being suspended a few hundred feet in the air in the event of such a disaster, but we can worry about that after the video becomes a YouTube sensation.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200032)

I am inspired by the idea of fractal robots. Basically you mass produce robotic building materials and broadcast plans for structures to them. Doors and windows could be created in a building as required by the building materials. As the technology matures the robots may acquire intelligence. I imagine a future where lonely swarms of bricks roam the countryside looking for sleeping homeless humans to build houses around.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200076)

...or they could form themselves into a w/c around somebody look particularly desperate in the queue for the iPhone 8 (rough timeframe estimate)!

Re:Cost benefit ratio (4, Funny)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200104)

or tombs, after Skynet becomes self-aware.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201556)

If I only had mod points.... then I'd have to decide between Funny, Insightful, or "EEEEEK!"

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38200632)

I think that broadcasting is not needed, after all ants and termites can build very efficient structures without the need for a plan, plans are only needed by humans because they don't know better.

With robotic building material there is no need for a plan, only very simples rules on how to assemble, create empty spaces, openings for light and ventilation.

Maybe the result would be shocking but I bet that it would be more efficient (thermal isolation, use of natural light) that anything that architect working for a lifetime could do.

Of course that solving the problem of people getting lost inside such a building is a completely different question :D

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200890)

And dwarves. Dwarves build great structures haphazardly and with plans!

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202084)

Then this [bbc.co.uk] should be a spectacular success.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38206364)

And as a nice coincidence, there were 7 of them getting into that SUV. :)

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201594)

If we ever intend to do any real orbital or space based manufacturing it will most likely depend on advances and confidence in robotic technologies. A project like the one in the article is just a small step towards that goal. We have already proven we can control robots as far away as Mars for simple exploration. To me the technology involved in actually deploying and directing the Mars rovers has always been more interesting than anything discovered so far.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38206420)

What would be even better is if the robots could make the building materials from what is on hand. Instead of sending a $tons of "building materials" to $planet. Have them use the landing craft as materials, cut rock, strip alien monuments etc.....

Re:Cost benefit ratio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38204218)

Don't ascribe human emotion to a machine with a directive. A utility seeks to merely accomplish that directive within the prescribed tolerances and whatever criterion it was assigned to it.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (0)

jovius (974690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200096)

I think it's sheer stupidity to not have that kind of structure built by humans. I mean come on, six meters and 1500 foam modules. What are we, total imbeciles who cannot built anything taller than Jenga towers?

Re:Cost benefit ratio (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200134)

I think it's sheer stupidity to not have that kind of structure built by humans.

The whole point is to build it with robots.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200770)

It would be even better if there were robot sharks with lasers trying to shoot them down.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38206446)

All is fun and games until someone throws a pig at it.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

GNUman (155139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38206086)

I can't figure out if your comment is meant to be funny or are you under the impression that this is something other than an art exhibit?

Re:Cost benefit ratio (2)

rikxik (1337017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200130)

Intelligent bricks:

brick1: Man, look at that brick chick just out of the kiln.. she's hot! I have a hard-on
brick2: Stop hitting on her!
brick1: Look, I'll just fly-over and tell her that I had to lay upon her... I'm smooth like that.
brick2: Dude, don't be all hot and heavy... you'll be stone-walled.
brick1: You can't break my resolve (flies away).
brick2: Sigh.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38200228)

And ofcourse it should be self assembling, not controlled from a central xontrol room

Re:Cost benefit ratio (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201350)

One batch of "self-assembling" robot helicopters can assemble one building.
One batch of "resource aware" robot helicopters can assemble hundreds of buildings.

Re:Cost benefit ratio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38202146)

Autobots, assemble!

And then? And then!! (3, Funny)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200064)

I will totally buy the DVD if they can have this sissy tower repeatedly destroyed by one or more Big Dogs [youtube.com] .

Re:And then? And then!! (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201022)

Even better if these robots can assembled just as fast, but no faster, than a big dog can knock one down.

Built by Raffaello d'Andrea, ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38200078)

... Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at ETH Zürich, creator of the Flying Machine Arena. http://www.idsc.ethz.ch/Research_DAndrea/FMA

Re:Built by Raffaello d'Andrea, ... (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202038)

The University of Pennsylvania has been doing this for years, and already [youtube.com] has the capacity to build towers larger than the one proposed.

I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38200178)

... welcome our new flying robot surrendering overlords.

Quick, someone grab the cube (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200186)

Isn't this pretty much what happened to that last tower in Final Fantasy 1? And didn't the robots go berserk? I guess people better start investing in magic cubes.

It's art (3, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200480)

On a practical level, so what? The robots are all controlled centrally, by remote control. There's nothing hugely special about the technology.

The point of this is art. According to TFA, the flight paths will be programmed to produce arcs, circles, etc - i.e., to look pretty. Might be a nifty exhibit to watch.

Re:It's art (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201014)

It is [youtube.com] . (no goatse, I promise.)

Re:It's art (2)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201980)

Seriously? There's a lot of potential here with this kind of tech being refined.

Imagine an architecture/engineering firm being able to program and automate the entire construction process with these things. Or build in modular chunks and have them assembled wherever they're delivered.

Re:It's art (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38205668)

OK, it's art. But when I watch this [youtube.com] , I also see impossibly dense traffic flowing through a city, and I see a perfectly orchestrated army attacking from all sides at once.

Central control isn't necessarily bad. Yes, people have been enamored for the last 10-15 years with decentralized control and swarming - which is all well and good. But in general decentralized control will NOT reach the efficiency of centralized control. We assume decentralization is better because we're accustomed to the cognitive limitations of animals (ourselves included), where the only way to scale past some point is parallelization, and thus decentralization. But with vastly more powerful compute nodes, and vastly more bandwidth between them, pretty much any distributed architecture is feasible, including centralization. Or if you don't like the single point of failure, have all the nodes broadcast all their information to all others, and independently reach the same (perfectly coordinated) conclusion.

Soon the idea of humans manually routing ourselves will be just as obsolete as switchboard operators [collectivehunch.com] compared to a Cisco router.

Uh Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38200490)

I can't be the only one who watched the video and immediately thought of Manhacks [wikia.com] ?

Two centuries of job destruction (2)

caliburngreywolf (1218464) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201112)

aaaaaand we move one step closer to a world where everything is done by machines. What do we do when anything that isn't "art" is doable by (non-human) automotons? The good answer would be "relax and let our robot slaves do everything" but realistically, with our current social, political, and economic systems, soemonwe would own the machines and make all the money while the masses would be left to pursue an ever-diminishing job pool. Name a job that cannot be done by robots and software....one day your answer will be wrong. MIlitary? nope. we have predator-like systems that are automated and even use facial recognition software to pre-authorize a "kill-shot" Manufacturing? 3d printers. CAD design? not too l.ong before computer-aided becomes computer-run. Not that this is the best topic to rant on, but the japanese have nurse and childcare robots, right? If I recall, there's even a programming language written by a computer. politicians are talking about job creation when nearly every scientific and business researcher out there is actively engaged in the pursuit of job destruction and has been for nearly two centuries. How can we continue to base an economy off the idea that everyone should attempt to be gainfully employed when we continue to replace every possible job with automation?

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201460)

Name a job that cannot be done by robots and software....one day your answer will be wrong.

Robots and software cannot sufficiently deal with malicious human actors that are smart enough to manipulate the programming of the robots and software. Give a human an in depth knowledge of an "automated system" and he will be able to subvert it. Sure -- robots that harvest potatoes, slaughter cows, process and transport the products to your local McDonalds, and cook value meals aren't important to subvert for non-malicious actors... but controlling the truly malicious actors requires and demands a human-in-the-loop.

So yeah... "dealing with malicious humans" is a job that robots and software cannot do by itself. Mind you... criminal is by its nature malicious, but malicious is not criminal when the intents are noble. Noble intents include, but are not limited to, disabling your invasive robotic and software controlled tracking systems. Red light cameras... fine. They serve a purpose. 1984-style telescreens... not going to happen. And the thought police (i.e. children spying on their parents) also a dream that will never be realized on a global scale.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202122)

If it decided to just kill off all humans, that would sufficiently deal with your scenario.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (3, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38203670)

*Today's* Robots and software cannot sufficiently deal with malicious human actors.

There are lots of jobs that today’s robots and software can't handle. That doesn't tell you much about tomorrow's. Or the day after tomorrow.

If society doesn't adapt to this, things will get brutal. You want a "Butlerian Jihad"? This is the way to get it. The Luddites weren't being unreasonable, they were fighting to keep the jobs that their survival depended upon. Popular history tells the story the bosses used, but the facts are there if you dig them up.

Did you ever hear about the riots caused by calendar reform when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar in Britain? Guess what those were about. "Give us back our 21 days!" meant that the landlords charged everyone nearly an extra months rent. THAT's what those riots were about. It wasn't people being silly and superstitious, as I was taught in grade school. Whenever you hear of mobs of upset people being "silly and superstious" throughout history, if you check carefully you will usually find that the story has been corrupted, and they were protesting a vile injustice being committed upon them. (They didn't always pick the right target. Scapegoating is common. But they [nearly?] always have an actual injustice that they are protesting.)

This business of requiring that everyone have a job when the decent jobs are disappearing is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38202050)

It's about asymptotes. Every year, we replace more jobs with robots, we grow the economy the same amount, and we have zero population growth -- or with non-zero, but limited, population growth, grow the economy by the sum.

As long as we never replace all jobs with robots, or run out of resources to sustain economic growth (including in space, where vacuum-breathing robots are far less expensive to support than humans), the culture and economy of gainful employment is sustainable, and not even very problematic. It's an issue completely separable from Rossum Universal's declared ownership of the "intellectual property" of robots and their programming, and exclusive control of their benefits at everyone else's expense -- which could (but won't) be solved by the abolition of copyright and restriction of patent.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (2)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38203758)

The ownership of the robots is becoming more concentrated over time, and earlier solutions won't help. Robots don't unionize.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (1)

DSS11Q13 (1853164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202446)

Burn the windmills.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (1)

kumanopuusan (698669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202980)

Haha, wow! I love the extent to which you've owned the slave identity that consumer culture has thrust upon you. You're the sort that hears about Heaven and decides that he'd rather go to Hell, because there are no jobs in paradise and in Hell you get to climb a mountain of swords on your belly. I can imagine you talking to the demon who's sawing off your legs for the third time this morning: "Sure, climbing the mountain of swords doesn't pay as well as being an executive and the ocean of boiling blood is too hot, but it's honest work!"

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38204110)

"What do we do when anything that isn't "art" is doable by (non-human) automotons?"

What do we do when even "art" is doable by non-humans? I don't think those two scenarios are that far apart from each other.

Re:Two centuries of job destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38204556)

aaaaaand we move one step closer to a world where everything is done by machines. What do we do when anything that isn't "art" is doable by (non-human) automotons?

This whole post is racist against Robot-Americans. I am totally going to report you to our new Robot overlords (who I, for one welcome).

Robot FRAC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38201950)

Wow, I've always wanted to see flying robots FRAC.

This is the begining... (1)

Jmanamj (1077749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202570)

I knew it. Everyone I knew laughed at my dedicated studies of Minecraft architecture. But now I'm ahead of the curve, and laughing at my naysayers...

Excuse me, I have to go build a few of those man-lifting, scaled-up hexacopters, and dig up a few thousand cobblestone blocks.

FROST PIST? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38202762)

th3y're gone Mac

will the robots comply with the french law? (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38203076)

will they be limited to 35 hours of work per week each?

I have to say it... (1)

Luniz (1115637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38205362)

What could possibly go wrong?
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