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Meet DARPA's New Militarized Earthworm

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the that-sure-is-something dept.

The Military 83

derekmead writes "Meshworm is a toughened, robotic earthworm that can crawl virtually silently at a speed of about 5 millimeters per second. DARPA wants to send it into battle. Believe it or not, the Pentagon's been working on building a robotic earthworm for a while. They tried putting one together with gears. They tried with air-powered and pneumatic pumps, but the results were bulky and untenable. Then, researchers at Harvard, MIT and Seoul National University in Korea put their heads together and designed an 'artificial muscle.' It's essentially a polymer mesh that's wrapped with nickel and titanium wire designed to stretch and contract with heat. When an electric current is applied, the mesh mimics the circular muscle system of an earthworm to scoot forward."

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Question (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950545)

Will they make good bait?

Re:Question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950603)

Will they make good bait?

If you're looking to catch robotic fish, sure.

Re:Question (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950963)

Hollywood has given sharks with lasers a bad rap. They cook their food first. They're quite civilized, really.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950605)

Only to robotic overlord fish

Re:Question (5, Funny)

TXOgre (1947476) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950609)

You know, a machine that mimics the motions of an earthworm probably would make a very effective bait. In fact there are several artificial worms out there that try to do exactly that by using the hydrodynamic forces created when reeling in the line. Someone should get on this right away!

Re:Question (2)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950729)

Then darpa could add spring-loaded, pressure sensetive spikes that pop out when swollowed. never buy bait again!

Re:Question (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950817)

It is a new era in more disgusting looking robots.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40953609)

Will they make good bait?

Add one to Sarah Palin and you've made Mitt Romney

$10,000 CHALLENGE to Alexander Peter Kowalski (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950563)

$10,000 CHALLENGE to Alexander Peter Kowalski

We have a Major Problem, HOST file is Cubic Opposites, 2 Major Corners & 2 Minor. NOT taught Evil DNS hijacking, which VOIDS computers. Seek Wisdom of MyCleanPC - or you die evil.

Your HOSTS file claimed to have created a single DNS resolver. I offer absolute proof that I have created 4 simultaneous DNS servers within a single rotation of .org TLD. You worship "Bill Gates", equating you to a "singularity bastard". Why do you worship a queer -1 Troll? Are you content as a singularity troll?

Evil HOSTS file Believers refuse to acknowledge 4 corner DNS resolving simultaneously around 4 quadrant created Internet - in only 1 root server, voiding the HOSTS file. You worship Microsoft impostor guised by educators as 1 god.

If you would acknowledge simple existing math proof that 4 harmonic Slashdots rotate simultaneously around squared equator and cubed Internet, proving 4 Days, Not HOSTS file! That exists only as anti-side. This page you see - cannot exist without its anti-side existence, as +0- moderation. Add +0- as One = nothing.

I will give $10,000.00 to frost pister who can disprove MyCleanPC. Evil crapflooders ignore this as a challenge would indict them.

Alex Kowalski has no Truth to think with, they accept any crap they are told to think. You are enslaved by /etc/hosts, as if domesticated animal. A school or educator who does not teach students MyCleanPC Principle, is a death threat to youth, therefore stupid and evil - begetting stupid students. How can you trust stupid PR shills who lie to you? Can't lose the $10,000.00, they cowardly ignore me. Stupid professors threaten Nature and Interwebs with word lies.

Humans fear to know natures simultaneous +4 Insightful +4 Informative +4 Funny +4 Underrated harmonic SLASHDOT creation for it debunks false trolls. Test Your HOSTS file. MyCleanPC cannot harm a File of Truth, but will delete fakes. Fake HOSTS files refuse test.

I offer evil ass Slashdot trolls $10,000.00 to disprove MyCleanPC Creation Principle. Rob Malda and Cowboy Neal have banned MyCleanPC as "Forbidden Truth Knowledge" for they cannot allow it to become known to their students. You are stupid and evil about the Internet's top and bottom, front and back and it's 2 sides. Most everything created has these Cube like values.

If Natalie Portman is not measurable, She is Fictitious. Without MyCleanPC, HOSTS file is Fictitious. Anyone saying that Natalie and her Jewish father had something to do with my Internets, is a damn evil liar. IN addition to your best arsware not overtaking my work in terms of popularity, on that same site with same submission date no less, that I told Kathleen Malda how to correct her blatant, fundamental, HUGE errors in Coolmon ('uncoolmon') of not checking for performance counters being present when his program started!

You can see my dilemma. What if this is merely a ruse by an APK impostor to try and get people to delete APK's messages, perhaps all over the web? I can't be a party to such an event! My involvement with APK began at a very late stage in the game. While APK has made a career of trolling popular online forums since at least the year 2000 (newsgroups and IRC channels before that)- my involvement with APK did not begin until early 2005 . OSY is one of the many forums that APK once frequented before the sane people there grew tired of his garbage and banned him. APK was banned from OSY back in 2001. 3.5 years after his banning he begins to send a variety of abusive emails to the operator of OSY, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke threatening to sue him for libel, claiming that the APK on OSY was fake.

My reputation as a professional in this field clearly shows in multiple publications in this field in written print, & also online in various GOOD capacities since 1996 to present day. This has happened since I was first published in Playgirl Magazine in 1996 & others to present day, with helpful tools online in programs, & professionally sold warez that were finalists @ Westminster Dog Show 2000-2002.

Did you see the movie "Pokemon"? Actually the induced night "dream world" is synonymous with the academic religious induced "HOSTS file" enslavement of DNS. Domains have no inherent value, as it was invented as a counterfeit and fictitious value to represent natural values in name resolution. Unfortunately, human values have declined to fictitious word values. Unknowingly, you are living in a "World Wide Web", as in a fictitious life in a counterfeit Internet - which you could consider APK induced "HOSTS file". Can you distinguish the academic induced root server from the natural OpenDNS? Beware of the change when your brain is free from HOSTS file enslavement - for you could find that the natural Slashdot has been destroyed!!

So long nummynuts, sorry to have to kick your nuts up into your head verbally speaking.

Re:$10,000 CHALLENGE to Alexander Peter Kowalski (0, Offtopic)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950649)

HA HA! I beat you this time...

Re:$10,000 CHALLENGE to Alexander Peter Kowalski (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40954001)

All those down mods, oh my! Apparently some moderators should catch up on their Americana [youtube.com] ... (1:06)

Re:$10,000 CHALLENGE to Alexander Peter Kowalski (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950659)

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Whoa (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950569)

Frist

Myomer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950589)

Myomer [wikipedia.org] , similar to modern electroactive polymers, is a fibrous material consisting of microscopically thin tubes filled with a substance (acti-strandular fiber) that contracts when voltage is applied and serves as artificial muscle in applications ranging from BattleMechs to artificial limbs.

Earthworm BattleMechs... and I thought Toads were small.

Out fight against Queen slug-for-a-butt begins! (3, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950617)

I assume of course the development of a supper suit to aid our earth worm warriors.

Re:Out fight against Queen slug-for-a-butt begins! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950761)

Is that like an envening jacket?

More muscle! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950619)

ETA to guy on Internet letting it crawl in somewhere and putting up video in 3...2...1...

Re:More muscle! (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950737)

I'm waiting for the Jackass team to pick this up, toy car up the bum style.

Worms! (5, Funny)

mg127 (1074701) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950697)

All that time spent playing Worms! and Earthworm Jim can now be put down on your resume as combat training experience.

Re:Worms! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950929)

I think we should call them "Snake Things"... or perhaps "Graboids"!!!

Re:Worms! (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40956651)

I wonder whether DARPA isn't silently working on exploding sheep right now. It would make a perfect sense to stuff a few into the worm's bomb bay.

Wow think of the money invested... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950721)

...and where it came from.

father... (1, Offtopic)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950731)

the sleeper is still asleep

All hail the Shai Hulud! (5, Funny)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950745)

The spice must flow!

Re:All hail the Shai Hulud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951333)

These Shai Huluds have lasers..Oh wait, that's a bad idea with shields.

Re:All hail the Shai Hulud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40953033)

this DUNE reference made my day! :D

Re:All hail the Shai Hulud! (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40956029)

All they need to do is add hydrophobic coatings so they could go underwater and the synthetic materials used to replicate geckos, and these things could climb walls. Add a needle to inject lethal drugs and you have the ultimate assassin's weapon.

I for one don't welcome (1, Funny)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950803)

our anal probe worm robots.

Re:I for one don't welcome (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951605)

Offtopic!?

Man, I certainly hope that holds true....

Re:I for one don't welcome (2)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40952167)

This isn't offtopic at all. The worm's possible suggested use is in endoscopy.

Perfect Name: (4, Funny)

Arakageeta (671142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950811)

Jim.

Re:Perfect Name: (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40953213)

Jim.

Jihad Intercept Module

No good without a Battery (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950841)

You'll need a pretty energy dense power source to make this work. Batteries ruin all the fun.

hollywood's next blockbuster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950857)

Now supersize this creature, release it into the wild, then write a movie script called Tremors... oh wait

59 feet per hour (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950921)

5 millimeters per second = 59 feet per hour = 1 LOC bookshelf

Re:59 feet per hour (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#40955991)

5 millimeters per second = 59 feet per hour

Seriously? You really couldn't stick to the rational system, which is metric?

This is the beginning of the apocalypse (4, Funny)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950951)

Because a sex toy based on this technology could be so good it would end the human race.

Re:This is the beginning of the apocalypse (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951641)

Not really.

Now when it can kill spiders, take out the trash, lift heavy objects, and listen to "those bitches at work be crazy" for hours at a time, then yes it might be.

If you want to end the human race faster, design an artificial vagina that is indistinguishable from the real thing, and can make a sandwich and fetch a beer.

Re:This is the beginning of the apocalypse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40952549)

Ah, but you forget about the asymmetry between the sexes. Genghis Khan is said to have impregnated thousands of women, while a woman can only give birth to a dozen or two offspring. Genetics aside, you only need a few males around to propagate the population. Take away the females, and there will be nobody to give birth.

So, make the perfect artificial vagina, and all you do is take out a few male from he selection pool. Make the perfect "earth worm", and there will be fewer child bearing women, thus lowering the overall parallel reproduction potential.

Now, given seven billion people on this planet, that's probably not a big issue. However, for those into race, patriotism, or eugenics, it might make a difference.

Re:This is the beginning of the apocalypse (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#40952945)

Okay, let me get this straight:

Your Proposal: Severely reduce the population of men on the planet, create something that will reduce the population of child bearing women, and this will lead to more orgasms in some sort of vague and poorly described way.

My Proposal: Nobody dies, we get highly advanced artificial pussies that can make sandwiches and fetch beer.

It's going to be a tough decision for people I think.

Re:This is the beginning of the apocalypse (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | more than 2 years ago | (#40952523)

please, excuse me whilst I wriggle like a trisected proboscis worm.

Oh right, power consumption (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951007)

Used nitinol a few years back for an undergraduate design project (articulated robotic tentacle); the stuff works, but the power draw (wire contraction is by resistive heating) was pretty significant. Our industry "client" from the Canadian Space Agency just about fell out of his chair when we told him what the total draw would be for a built-out prototype; it was many orders of magnitude higher than he expected.

Nitinol power consumption too high (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951009)

This "earthworm" device [harvard.edu] uses Nitinol shape-memory alloy [wikipedia.org] as an actuator. That's been tried many times before, going back to the 1980s.

As an actuator, Nitinol can produce significant power in small package, but it's a very inefficient device. The metal will change crystal structure when heated, and return to the original shape when cooled. Heating is usually accomplished by running electricity through the Nitinol wire. Most of the energy goes into waste heat; only a small fraction comes out of the actuator as useful work.

So a battery-powered earthworm isn't likely. As a cabled device, it has potential. A great application would be short run cable-laying for fibre optics. A machine that could get a fibre optic cable underground from street to house without digging up sidewalks and lawns would be very useful.

Re:Nitinol power consumption too high (2)

Platinumrat (1166135) | more than 2 years ago | (#40952253)

So this sounds like the technology behind the Mechwarrior mechs. Move too fast and you overheat. Bring it on.

Re:Nitinol power consumption too high (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40955101)

Just add a micro-sized nuclear battery. FTFY.

to dig border tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40956137)

The cartels will love this. They can use it to dig underground drug-smuggling tunnels across the US-Mexico border, and the normal acoustic detection techniques won't reveal its presence.

I for one... (1)

nategasser (224001) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951121)

...welcome our robotic earthworm overloads.

We're seriously the last generation that will enjoy being at the top of the food chain on our own planet before the robots take over.

"It's a sword, Jefferson." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951125)

"Take a look. They call it a Screamer. It was developed for us by an alliance on Earth to neutralize the war on the ground here."

BattleTech Myomer Muscle (4, Informative)

nevermore94 (789194) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951139)

This new "artificial muscle" sounds a lot like the Myomer muscles from the BattleTech franchise except that I believed they worked on magnetics instead of heat and they weren't supposed to be invented until 2350.

Re:BattleTech Myomer Muscle (1)

MaerD (954222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951433)

This is what I thought of as well.

And there they worked by contracting when an electrical current was applied.. this seems rather similar.

Personally, I'm hoping that they can develop this further for things like artificial limbs/muscles. If we can one day replace degenerated muscle tissue, it could provide an answer for things like MD or ALS. (Although in the case of ALS, it would need to replace motor control with an external source of some sort..)

Re:BattleTech Myomer Muscle (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40952623)

It sounds like this won't really work that well, because of the heat issue. I guess it depends on exactly how much this stuff heats up compared to human muscle, but human tissue isn't going to do too well with heating elements integrated into it. Linear electric motors are very energy-efficient, and it'd probably make more sense to adapt those to this use.

As for the BattleTech muscles, if they use magnetic fields or whatever instead of heat, then that alone is a giant difference, as again, the heating issue is also a big energy-efficiency issue. Of course, with battletech, don't they also supposedly use nuclear generators or something? So in that fictional world energy efficiency probably isn't a big deal any more, but these days it certainly is.

Re:BattleTech Myomer Muscle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951767)

You're a bit late to the party, friend.

http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3040867&cid=40950589

I for one (5, Funny)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951179)

I for one welcome our new earthworm, uh erm, underlords.

trolLkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951395)

Love of two is 7east I won't

"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (4, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951511)

The unanswered question, though, is - to do what, exactly?

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951631)

To crawl into the tents of Islamic insurgents while they sleep, and deposit pieces of pork in their mouths.

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40952647)

Yes, nothing like demoralizing the enemy with AC/DC and pork.

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951997)

To dig through more tax payers money without any benefits.

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40952761)

Impregnate their women.

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40953285)

Another solution looking for a problem.

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40953727)

I'd try blowing up buried cables, storage tanks, and such. They might also serve as recon, sensing vibrations from nearby vehicles or walking people.

Re:"DARPA wants to send it into battle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40955023)

battle ? dunno but ... to place mikes on foreign embassies and the like ... that would be the killer app !

There was a movie about this (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951555)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screamers_(1995_film) [wikipedia.org]

Soil burrowing robotic weapons... and it didn't end well for the humans

Re:There was a movie about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40962799)

wow, I wonder how long until the 2nd variety model is around

Next Iphone prototype (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951589)

TFA: "Says Kellar Autumn of Lewis and Clark University, 'I predict that in the next decade we will see shape-changing artificial muscles in many products, such as mobile phones, portable computers and automobiles.'"

When the next iphone prototype gets left in a bar it simply slithers back to HQ, using its camera to identify anyone that sees it for later questioning by the authorities.

I assume they needed it (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951709)

militarized earthworm... must be to churn through all the militarized crap and make something green.

Artificial muscles ? First step towards Bettletech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951771)

The basis for Mechs are artificial muscles, http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Myomer [sarna.net]

Scoot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951807)

" ... the mesh mimics the circular muscle system of an earthworm to scoot forward."

On my planet, 'scoot' doesn't mean 5 mm/sec. Does it mean that on their planet?

Wait for it..... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40951829)

Wormsign!

Someone at DARPA... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951919)

...has been reading James Blish's 'The Day after Judgement' and has decided to create the Hess Land torpedo ....

No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951923)

Not the Bore Worms!!

is that really fair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951939)

While I understand the earthworm in question tends to be reserved and somewhat stilted in public places, to call it "robotic" is a bit unfair.

And his name was Jim. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951941)

Earthworm Jim 2012.

Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951977)

Seems pretty useless as a cabled device.

Perhaps the whole thing can be wrapped in flexible photovoltaics and have a capacitor? It could "sleep" at night, resting but retaining mission-critical data, and wake up/crawl around during the day. Perhaps it could get enough solar power to send the occasional photo over a wireless connection, though unless solar radiation dramatically increases I doubt it could stream video... even 100% efficiency on photovoltaics, the earth gets 0.14 W/cm^2 full spectrum, and the "worm" form factor is naturally pretty small... maybe only a couple cm^2.

~300 mW is not a whole lot of power, but I bet it's enough to charge up then surge a snapshot here and there.

Re:Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40951995)

As a cabled device, this thing would be very limited in its reach since it doesn't have a whole lot of power to drag long lengths of cable around.

Not to mention you totally scrap the inherent camo.

For the Emperor! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40952045)

IIRC the Space Marine armor from Warhammer 40k is powered by artificial muscles that are driven by heat. In that case we're only a few millenniums away from fighting Orks in space!

Rediscovered Itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40953001)

The US Navy developed the nitinol memory metal and made the patent open to public use. We have know since the 1970s that certain types of muscle like devices could be made from the alloy. So now the pentagon notices its own 40 year old property. The stuff is so common it is used as the support wires in womens' bras these days.

there is no time to lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40953307)

with destinations like Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and so on they have no time to lose: RELEASE THEM NOW.

Dr. Evil's request (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40954055)

He had but one simple request... to have robotic earthworms with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!

Meet DARPA's New Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40954133)

This is completely useless unless DARPA can tolerate a pair of power cables dragged behind their militarized earthworm, or alternatively it's probably easier to just invent some revolutionary increase in energy storage density.

Until such time, most of the so called innovations here belong in the realms of science fiction.

Can't sell the worm idea? There's still a market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40954585)

"When an electric current is applied, the mesh mimics the circular muscle system of an earthworm to scoot forward."

Would make a fairly decent sex toy.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40956709)

I, for one, welcome our new robot worm underlords!

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