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Robot Composed of "Catoms" Can Assume Any Form

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live dept.

Robotics 168

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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By Any Other Name (5, Funny)

RobertNotBob (597987) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267172)

I, for one, welcome our new replicator Overlords.

Multi Meme Heaven (4, Funny)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267506)

T-1000 Cat is watching you masturbate! >.

Plague... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267616)

Just finishing the book "Plague Year", in which a cancer cure prototype made up of nano-machine instead become a self-replicating flesh eater. Take this article, and the earlier one about nano-tubes with cancer cures and...dang, I think I might be reading a book of prophecy. And thus ends another species...

Re:By Any Other Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267676)

was thinking same thing...

Replicators != Comedians, SID 6.7 = Comedian (1)

kalieaire (586092) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267972)

The Replicator Overlords maybe powerful, But SID 6.7 can at least tell you a joke before you die.

Re:By Any Other Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22268192)

By any other name, it's also known as Chodenji Mashin Borutesu Faibu [wikipedia.org] - Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V.

Let's Volt In!

Re:By Any Other Name (1)

aled (228417) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268542)

we are doomed I tell you. Doomed.

Re:By Any Other Name (3, Funny)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268842)

...but i suggest to our future overlords that Voltronic is a much snappier name than claytronic

Tag (3, Funny)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267174)

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

Re:Tag (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267252)

I thought they were supposed to have been making that into a film.

Re:Tag (1)

pi415 (1231566) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267372)

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.

Re:Tag (1)

Hawkeye05 (1056362) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267920)

They don't technically reproduce on their own, they need a host thats why they found that "nest" with the dead bodies. But Great book, and scary article i just by this becomes mainstream all homes have positive pressure.

Re:Tag (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267630)

How about "Christmasbush" [cmu.edu] for all the Robert Forward or Hans Moravec fans.

Re:Tag (1)

honestmonkey (819408) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268784)

All five of them thank you.

Re:Tag (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268994)

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


Why ? Aren't "greygoo" and "predprey" good enough ? :)

Obvious comment (2, Insightful)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267184)

Transformers! Robots in disguise!

Re:Obvious comment (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267282)

Maybe this is a prototype for the liquid metal T2000??

Re:Obvious comment (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267484)

Aw, you beat me to it! Curse you, you are just as uncreative as me.

Re:Obvious comment (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267708)

Actually, first thought was that of the robot 'SID v6.7' from "Virtuosity". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114857/ [imdb.com]

Re:Obvious comment (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267946)

That was a fun movie :)

I wish they would do a sequel ... imagine it with current-generation Denzel and Crowe, and some better writers? :)

Re:Obvious comment (1)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268456)

or Transmorphers! Movies in disguise! Worst movie ever if you have not seen it.

Re:Obvious comment (1)

clem (5683) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268524)

If by "Transmorphers" you mean "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem", I wholeheartedly agree.

Awe gee-whiz... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267190)

In before "I, for one, welcome our tired meme X" joke.

Re:Awe gee-whiz... (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267222)

In Soviet Slashdot, tired meme jokes are in before YOU!

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267326)

OK, now that's funny!

Re:MOD PARENT UP (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267610)

OK, now that's funny!

No it's not! You want funny? Here's funny : There's two hookers in a lift. One goes, "It smells like cum in here". The other one replies, "Oops sorry I just farted".

Tada! Mod points please...

Re:MOD PARENT UP (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267764)

Here's funny : There's two hookers in a lift. One goes, "It smells like cum in here". The other one replies, "Oops sorry I just farted".

No it's not! You want funny? Here's funny : a dead baby in a clown suit.

Tada! Mod points please...

Emergence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267192)

Emergence is a lovely thing.

mod parent insightful (no msg) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267242)

lameness filter fodder here

Oh no, it's the Replicators! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267198)

Sounds like the Replicators from the "Stargate" TV series(es).

Re:Oh no, it's the Replicators! (2, Funny)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268176)

Asgard replicators or Ancient replicators?

As long as they evolve into an evil robot Sam Carter!

Any relation? (2)

Debello (1030486) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267200)

Any relation to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_fog [wikipedia.org] utility foglets?

Re:Any relation? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267268)

I could use a few of those, and the associated programmer...I can think of a lot of things I could use 'em for.

Replicators!!! (5, Funny)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267212)

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!!!

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267270)

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

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267314)

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 :/

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267504)

First Replicators and now Cybermen? WE'RE DOOOOMED!

Re:Replicators!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267620)

The Atlantis replicators were independently developed replicators to the Milkyway replicators in the plotline. Similar technlogy of course, but no reason weapons effective for one would be guaranteed effective for the others.

Re:Replicators!!! (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267864)

it's about time someone had that point straight- milkyway replicators != Pegasus replicators! the first set basically destroyed the civilization that created reese who created the original replicators as "toys". the pegasus replicators however were created by the ancients to fight the wraith, later the ancients destroyed most but not all of their creation leaving the last surviving replicators to rebuild their "civilization" modeled after the ancients themselves with the exception being that they couldn't modify their own code [damned proprietary software!] and had a "nasty temper" rivaling that of the wraith. here's a more in depth explaination:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicator_(Stargate)

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268256)

the darn writers nearly screwed that logic up last episode though... they tried saying O'Neill got the Ancient idea because it was in the database left over from the Pegasus galaxy. OK that's believable. They got dangerously close to saying the Asgard "borrowed" that tech for their replicators. Grrr.

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267730)

i can has zwix armey niphee, ducked tape, and gum rappr?

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267742)

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!!

Re:Replicators!!! (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267284)

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.

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

redtetrahedron (738841) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267344)

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...

Re:Replicators!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267880)

Oh, I could have easily done that! But I would not have actually have done that, like the grandparent tried to do. A simple one-line replicator joke would have sufficed. Explaining it all in detail for those non-Stargate-watching readers took all the humour away.

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267350)

it's pronounced T'ealc

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267428)

It's all okay, though. On Atlantis, McKay can just reprogram them.

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267482)

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.

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267888)

Why are they doing Skynet's work? We really don't need a T1000 running around. Someone needs to tell these guys that "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" is not a reality show.

Re:Replicators!!! (1)

sempernoctis (1229258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268930)

Don't worry, I'm developing PWARWs in my basement :)

And that's why... (3, Funny)

martinQblank (1138267) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267234)

...The best part of being a Super Villian is the Doomsday devices!

I want... (2, Funny)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267648)

I will destroy the world unless you pay me $1,000,000^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h0,000,000^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h $10 billion dollars.

It's the T-1000! (1)

BillBrasky (610875) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267236)

Well, at least it can only form sharp, stabbing weapons. I just hope they're creating another robot to save us from it.

Re:It's the T-1000! (1)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267474)

Beat me to it.

"Have you seen this boy?"

Terminator II here we come! (2, Insightful)

Jtmoney528 (1231638) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267250)

Terminator II here we come!

Re:Terminator II here we come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22268112)

Hardly! T-1000 used a mimetic polyalloy - liquid metal to the layman - not nanobots.

In your dreams... (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268290)

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 isn't well thought, you could end up wasting LOTS of energy in moving the robot (and guess where that energy will go? Then we come to the subject of overheat prevention. You're gonna need a very good ventilation system. And the list could go on and on...

Catoms? (5, Funny)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267276)

Oh Hai! I haz a covalent bond?

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267524)

As the tags to this story say, those are LOLcatoms.
Not the same thing at all, really.

Re:Catoms? (4, Funny)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267594)

Nooo! Iz MAI lectron shell. I no share lectrons wit u.

Re:Catoms? (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267732)

Ur joke, it haz a flavr:

Geek comedik fail!

Re:Catoms? (2, Funny)

MP3Chuck (652277) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267818)

Noooo, dey be sharin' mah electrons!

Re:Catoms? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268160)

Haha, this gave me a good laugh.

Electromagnetic modules? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267820)

Invisible force!

Re:Catoms? (4, Funny)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268692)

DO NOT WANT!

Herds of Cat Robots! Cool! (2, Funny)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267280)

Herds of tiny cat robots? Cool - that'll go well with the Evil Laugh and the Monocle! [slashdot.org]

Just think of it (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267332)

Bisexuals could have a robotic, hermaphroditic sex partner.

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

Thus proving creationism.... (1)

Urger (817972) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267342)

Obviously Longcat created the universe using Catoms only for it to be corrupted by the evil Tacgnol.

Shiver (1)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267362)

Anyone that has read Alistair Reynold's Revelation Ark sees a disaster coming with this little buggers.

assuming almost any form (1)

uniqueUser (879166) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267392)

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?

For Christ sake... (0, Offtopic)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267398)

Don't welcome these overlords. We can cut that joke already don't we? I mean, it was fun at the beginning but not anymore.
Thanks

Re:For Christ sake... (1)

ANCOVA (1175953) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267510)

And with that settled, we can now welcome Jesus Christ the true overlord?

Re:For Christ sake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267602)

I, for one, welcome our tired-of-overlord-joke overlords.

pokey pokey (4, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267544)

Wha... "claytronic" robots?

I never foresaw that the machines that take over the world in the future would look like Gumby...

Re:pokey pokey (1)

Akira99ex (1173569) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267584)

I ALWAYS knew Gumby was up to no good...

Not that impressive (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267598)

Surely it would be a visually impressive sight. Other then that though, it would be worthless. The AI is simply not there to make it as we might think..

specialization beats generalization every time (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267830)

The evidence from living systems is that you get more success designing several specialized but simple and robust systems than one generalized but complex and fragile system.

Come to think of it, this is the lesson most people seem to have drawn about robotics, too. Maybe even for electronics, inasmuch as we're increasingly seeing people get a collection of specialized consumer electronics (MP3 player, PDA or smart phone) rather than try to program their microcomputer to do it all.

Apparently it's so dazzling a prospect constructing a system that can Do Anything that folks routinely overlook the fact that in the real world the ability to Do Anything slowly, unreliably and expensively loses routinely to a small collection of abilities to Do Something quickly, reliably, and cheaply.

Re:Not that impressive (1)

Kazrath (822492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268952)

It does not need to be an AI directly. You could make a reactive type repair system for things like boats/planes. Hole opens up in the hull and this makes an automated patch over it for the short term.

There definitley could be many other uses for this technology down to the least useful: Artistic value.

Holographic Video, Batman! (3, Insightful)

commisaro (1007549) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267622)

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!

Re:Holographic Video, Batman! (1)

Akira99ex (1173569) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267668)

Because nobody would abuse robots that could mimic humans.

Re:Holographic Video, Batman! (2, Funny)

ANCOVA (1175953) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267686)

I can't believe you didn't mention anything sex related.

Well duh, this is /. (1)

hermit_tries_virtual (1229948) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267844)

The general thought processes are as follows:

Paranoia,bad quotes, lazy humor, bad tagging, trolling,THEN sex, and finally, reading the article....

Re:Holographic Video, Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267982)

What kind of games do you think he meant?

Re:Holographic Video, Batman! (1)

hkfczrqj (671146) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268836)

these could potentially mimic the form of someone for the purposes of communication
Since this is /. , by communication you mean sex, right?

Re:Holographic Video, Batman! (1)

sempernoctis (1229258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268948)

Also, Uma Thurman

Claymation (2, Funny)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267684)

Unfortunately they'll only be able to make one incredibly small movement ever 6 hours or so.

Isaac Asimov's Robot City (1)

ambulatorybird (1151807) | more than 5 years ago | (#22267720)

This sounds a lot like the cellular morphing robot technology introduced in Isaac Asimov's Robot City [wikipedia.org] (which predates Stargate by one or two decades, I believe).

Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow (4, Interesting)

jamrock (863246) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

don't worry about Prey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267908)

I'm sure they weren't stupid enough to involve e. coli in the manufacturing process......

Legobot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22267964)

Actually, this might be better than Lego. *drool* When can I buy it in stores?

Their critical weakness (1)

shindrak (1148025) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268060)

At least everyone will already know how to deal with them if they go bonkers. All you need to do is have your bodyguard T-101 freeze them with liquid nitrogen, shatter them, and then drop them into a vat of molten steel. What could be easier?

Catoms? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22268096)

How in the hell do they expect to build anything out of Catoms? Ever try to herd Cats? Trying to build anything orderly out of them would be impossible.

I'm left unimpressed (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268172)

Until they can replicate Scarlet Johanson or Natalie Portman, it sounds pretty worthless to me.

Resistance... (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#22268330)

Is Futile!

Catoms, schmatoms (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268734)

They're obviously "Trillions".

Anyone else reminded (1)

Velocir (851555) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268750)

of Clayfighters? That was an awesome game :)

lul wut? (1)

Philomathie (937829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22268754)

Robot Composed of "Catoms" Can Assume Any Form Composed of "Catoms" Can "Catoms" Cat ... Mrowl :3
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