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US Navy Funds 'MacGyver' Robot

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the duct-tape-and-wire dept.

Robotics 70

another random user writes "A US team aims to build a robot that can work out how to use nearby objects to solve problems or escape threats. The machine has been dubbed a 'MacGyver Bot,' after the TV character who cobbled together devices to escape life-threatening situations. The challenge is to develop software that 'understands' what objects are in order to deduce how they can be used. The US Navy is funding the project and says the machines might ultimately be deployed alongside humans. It is providing $900,000 to robotics researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to carry out the work."

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70 comments

Rip off arm from nearby human (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41613741)

and use it as a club.

Re:Rip off arm from nearby human (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41613975)

you played bioforge back in the day, didn't you?

Re:Rip off arm from nearby human (3, Insightful)

simula (1032230) | about 2 years ago | (#41614227)

No kidding. Let this be a lesson to human kind.

In the beginning a robot and it's creator are the best of friends. I mean literally nestling you in sweet embrace [gatech.edu] .

The second that you think it will make a good dance partner and decide to hold onto it's jagged pincers, it will go berserk, breaking cinder brick walls and threatening to throw [gatech.edu] you from a five story building.

Re:Rip off arm from nearby human (1)

TCQuad (537187) | about 2 years ago | (#41620285)

That's why I got Old Glory Insurance [hulu.com] .

Re:Rip off arm from nearby human (3, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41614651)

and use it as a club.

Fortunately it's a "MacGyver bot". After vanquishing the enemy, it will be able to perform field surgery to re-attach the arm using duck-tape, a pine cone and some mints.

Skynet (3, Funny)

ruinevil (852677) | about 2 years ago | (#41613743)

This is the kind of research that creates Skynet. I don't want adaptive problem solving robots. I don't want to live in post-nuclear wasteland.

Re:Skynet (2)

fragtag (2565329) | about 2 years ago | (#41613781)

Especially when it decides that humans are the root of all problems in some way. Then it will make a gun from a gum wrapper, an office pen, and an air compressor.

God help us.

Re:Skynet (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 2 years ago | (#41613881)

Then it will make a gun from a gum wrapper, an office pen, and an air compressor. God help us.

Don't forget the dental floss and six feet of Prima-Cord. It is for the military after all.

Re:Skynet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614379)

Especially when it decides that humans are the root of all problems in some way. Then it will make a gun from a gum wrapper, an office pen, and an air compressor.

God help us.

I used some old pallet wrapping plastic, an ink pen, and a comprssed air hose from work lol the joy of working on machines weekend nights.
At least if a robot manages to come up with a solution like that itll show that we've done something more useful than spot welding a car body.

Re:Skynet (3, Funny)

bartoku (922448) | about 2 years ago | (#41613909)

I don't want to live in post-nuclear wasteland.

Do not worry, you will die in the first wave.

and WOPR just don't hook it the missiles systems (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41614011)

and WOPR just don't hook it the missiles systems

Re:Skynet (1)

Qwade79 (2464458) | about 2 years ago | (#41616093)

I was thinking more along the lines of Dr Who - 2x04 The Girl in the Fireplace.
Doctor: "What's happened to the crew? Where are they?"
Ship: "We did not have the parts,"
Doctor: "There should have been over fifty people on your ship! Where did they go?"
Ship: "We did not have the parts."
Doctor: "Fifty people don't just disappear! Where... oh... You didn't have the parts, so you used the crew..."

Pfft. (3, Funny)

multiben (1916126) | about 2 years ago | (#41613745)

MacGyver never had $900,000. He just had household products and a heart full of courage.

Re:Pfft. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614201)

And great hair!

Re:Pfft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41616693)

And today he has less hair, more fat and a car that even he can't fix.

Three laws of robotics (2, Interesting)

Cute and Cuddly (2646619) | about 2 years ago | (#41613773)

If it is for the navy, will it follow the three laws of robotics? A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. Enemies are humans too....

Re:Three laws of robotics (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41613891)

sure it will but its definition of human will be much more solarian (see robots and earth, where on the planet solara the definition of human was solarian) than the standard calvinian robots in the rest of foundation universe

Re:Three laws of robotics (1)

Cute and Cuddly (2646619) | about 2 years ago | (#41614547)

The navy, by definition sails. Leave interplanetary dreams to others.

Re:Three laws of robotics (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41614607)

my point was they will have a first law it will just be modified in such a way that only a subset of people count as humans.

Re:Three laws of robotics (1)

Cute and Cuddly (2646619) | about 2 years ago | (#41615881)

Subset? - That sounds dangerously close to a fourth Reich

Re:Three laws of robotics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41613939)

s/human/American human/g

Re:Three laws of robotics (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41614315)

s/human/American human/CEO or Political Leader/g

Re:Three laws of robotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617423)

s/human/American human/CEO or Political Leader/g

Parse error...
Did you mean s/human\/American human/CEO or Political Leader/g ?

Re:Three laws of robotics (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 2 years ago | (#41617901)

Keep in mind that this will not be built by the government, it will be built by government contractors. The laws will be much more like: A robot may not decrease corporate profits or, through inaction, allow corporate profits to decline. Well, I say "laws" but there is really just the one.

Correction (3)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41613787)

The hypothetical machine has been dubbed a 'MacGyver Bot,'

Re:Correction (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 2 years ago | (#41618847)

Does it come supplied with a swiss army knife, duck tape and mach book. Cause then it will work.

perfect. (3, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | about 2 years ago | (#41613819)

a pie-in-the-sky but science fiction-sounding objective, vague enough to mean almost anything but providing many opportunities for defining convenient "subgoals" and spinoff projects along the way, and pitched to the military.

yup! this grant and its extensions may well keep a lab swimming in $$$ until the Singularity.

Re:perfect. (2)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41614331)

That would be "pie-in-the-Skynet".

Re:perfect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41616461)

Good point. I think this technology has more commercial than military application. A piece of software that can solve complex problems only using available materials and tools would make for a nice engineering analysis tool. And maybe even an adaptive assembly line robot - no screws left? Use a zip tie. It could also be utilised as a repair robot, making technicians obsolete and cutting long term costs in the process.

To me it sounds like just another example of corporate R&D done with taxpayer's money.

Funding? (1)

pkinetics (549289) | about 2 years ago | (#41613837)

Why isn't the Phoenix Foundation funding this?

That funding moved to the SGC (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41613987)

That funding moved to the SGC.

Will it cover all possible uses? (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#41613877)

The challenge is to develop software that 'understands' what objects are in order to deduce how they can be used. The US Navy is funding the project and says the machines might ultimately be deployed alongside humans.

Seems like it would get pretty annoying having one of these around...

"That is a wool sock. It can be used to cover your feet, carry small objects, hold small heavy objects to be used as a bludgeon, or to masturbate."

"That is a bottle of ranch dressing. It can be used to top a salad, as a bludgeon, or to masturbate."

"That is a cheese grater. It can be used..."

Re:Will it cover all possible uses? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41613943)

"This is a cordless electric rotary tool. It can be used to dismantle annoying robots."

Never Point A Robot Into The Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614131)

Never Give A Robot Gum

Re:Will it cover all possible uses? (3, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | about 2 years ago | (#41613963)

BRB. Gotta check something with my cheese grater.

Re:Will it cover all possible uses? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#41614015)

Something tells me he won't "BRB"...

Re:Will it cover all possible uses? (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41614347)

Wasn't this a "Robot Chicken" episode???

What? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 2 years ago | (#41613927)

"after the TV character who cobbled together devices to escape life-threatening situations"

We've reached the point where we now have to explain who MacGyver is when he's referenced? Damn i feel old =P

Re:What? (1)

codegen (103601) | about 2 years ago | (#41614099)

Want to feel old? Read the Beloit Collge Mindset List [mindmeister.com] . Most of the incomming freshman for the class of 2016 were born in 1994. The last episode of MacGyver was originally broadcast in 1992. Not sure how long reruns went (or if there are still some on one of the cable channels), but it is a safe bet that most of them have never seen an episode of MacGyver. Gems on the list: never have seen an airplane ticket, a significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss, theTwilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.

Re:What? (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41614371)

As long as there is a SciFi Channel with Twilight Zone marathons... the children of man will remain enlightened...

SyFy != SciFi (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 2 years ago | (#41615121)

Too late. SciFi's gone.

Now we're left with 'paranormal', reality crap and wrestling.

Now admittedly, wrestling is fiction, but even if they explained the physics behind hitting someone with a folding chair, I don't think it counts as 'science fiction'.

Re:What? (1)

multiben (1916126) | about 2 years ago | (#41615419)

It makes me wonder how many people have completely missed the point of the MacGruber movie.

why the Navy and not the air force? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41613973)

why the Navy and not the air force?

Re:why the Navy and not the air force? (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41614083)

Probably because the Georgia Institute doesn't have an Officer's Club or a golf course.

Turf battle, same reason as SPAWAR (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41616713)

just like NOSC became SPAWAR (the Navy's center for SPAce WARfare, or officially the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command [wikipedia.org] ), this is about a turf battle, in the same way that each branch of the military also is sprouting a cyber-warfare division.

.

First one in can try to take over a certain portion of the operational budget and can claim to have been in the domain longer and thus worthy of more money. It's kind of like (to use an example from mom the doctor) the turf war for the carotid artery that gets operated on by general surgeons, by neurosurgeons, and vascular surgeons, each of which claims to be the best at it.

.

Or like spinal surgery fought for by neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, or like carpal tunnel surgery with a tug-of-war between hand-surgeons from general surgery, neurosurgery, or plastic surgery. [in case anyone sees a bias, i listed each specialty in alphabetic order ;>) ]

Plant the flag on the field and claim all of that turf as your branch's domain!

Knowing our Navy ... (2)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41614091)

... they'll get a MacGruber [wikipedia.org] robot.

It would be interesting... (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 2 years ago | (#41614115)

... to see if the robot came up with the same solution as jury-rigged by the Apollo 13 engineers for the carbon dioxide removal problem.

Re:It would be interesting... (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41614389)

Sadly no, the Robot decided to use the Astronauts' GI tracts as filters so it disemboweled them to solve the problem.

Re:It would be interesting... (1)

CoderJoe (97563) | about 2 years ago | (#41614469)

And then, when the ship's computer is damaged, they open several time windows into 18th century France for a replacement?

We'll know they did it right... (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#41614327)

... when it makes it's first accepted "Ask Slashdot" submission.

I think I saw the... (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41614423)

The project demo video [youtu.be] for this...

Disappointed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614715)

Was hoping they had a Guyver power armor instead

recursive ex machina? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614739)

A machine that is a Deus Ex Machina, machina?

Thrilled scientists (1)

ksandom (718283) | about 2 years ago | (#41614999)

"The scientists who invented the robot say they are thrilled that it worked out how to use two tampons to escape a flooding room, but disappointed that it did not foresee Johhny 5's jealousy that ultimately lead to its destruction."

Damn... read that wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615119)

I thought it said "US Navy Funds 'MacGyver' Reboot" and I just about creamed my pants... (although Mac's first mission would be to shed 30 pounds)

Oh well, robots are cool, too... I guess.

$900,000 (1)

gijoel (628142) | about 2 years ago | (#41615129)

is not going to make a mullet anywhere near awesome enough

Employee robot (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | about 2 years ago | (#41615139)

Sounds like they're building autonomous worker bees; next they'll fund "manager bots" that instruct them to do things that are not logical.

MacGyver Reboot? (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about 2 years ago | (#41615183)

I need to sleep before read Slashdot news.

No military contracts (1)

bsercombe72 (1822782) | about 2 years ago | (#41615217)

Don't put macgyverbot in a room full of guns.

Code of the Lifemaker by James P. Hogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615381)

Sounds a little like what ended up happening on Saturn's moon, Titan, when a damaged factory ship landed there. A whole robotic ecology with robotic grazers, predators and all the way up to sentient robots.

New Cycle of Life. FAIL (1)

fonitrus (1763632) | about 2 years ago | (#41615751)

What happened to working hard for a living? People want to DELEGATE EVRYTGHING these days.
Everyons i fat and lazy these days. We optimiseeverything to levels that allows us to have ample spare time.
We then KILL that spare time with endless hours of LoL, WoW, SC2, COD etc etc (insert your game poisoin here).
Then we spend some more money on gym to offset the obesity gained at work and gaming.

So if we spent more time working, less time at home we would be overall happier. Less time spent arguing with the wife and yelling after the kids.
Less time gaming is less time strestting out about raid strats, bis gear, who is not pulling weight and needs replaceing, screaming and slamming the keyboard against the monitor when some noob sniper APWs your ass and constantly griefs you with "no skillz".

so BE HAPPY = WORK HARDER :)

Hint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615797)

It's going to have sensitive testing and measuring equipments to examined materials, so it can make lego like materials found in the area, ranging from prescribed materials in the database to the most unsuspecting eventuality where only an handful of materials may be seen, and using the fastest possible method to achieve the objective.

Ob. vague Stargate reference (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41616581)

"MacGyver! I'm stuck in an iceberg with MacGadget!"

Hey, I never said it'd be an *accurate* quote.

Plenty of useful things to teach it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617393)

Make sure it knows that:

- A towel can double as a blindfold
- A small container of oil has myriad uses, from repairing corrosion to providing a light source.
- Bits of meat/ offal can be used to pacify and even train hostile animals.
- A mirror is useful for frightening off or distracting many aggressors.
- Large boulders can be used to block chokepoints, bridge pits and holes, can be broken down into ammunition and can even (in certain circumstances) be a food source!
- Always carry a dead lizard around.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617723)

What would happen if you made 2 of them fight?

Creativity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618729)

Creativity is exactly what computers are NOT good at.

I don't get it... (1)

HPHatecraft (2748003) | about 2 years ago | (#41618731)

what good is building a robot with a mullet? You'd think they would want to give the robot good hair, like George Clooney.

MacGyver the MacGyver bot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41618855)

Now if the MacGyver bot was made out of chicken wire, duct tape, and powered by a ceiling fan motor then I'd be impressed.

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