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Robotics Hardware Technology

Swarms of Solar-Powered Microbots On the Way 119

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the time-to-upgrade-the-fly-swatter dept.
Mike writes to tell us that Inhabitat has an interesting article, complete with some pretty pictures, about a new solar-powered swarm robot that could be used to collect data and aid in surveillance. "These mini-robots are quite revolutionary, considering that they contain all that's necessary to collect data and relay it back using one single circuit board. In the past single-chip robots have presented significant design and manufacturing challenges due in part to the use of solder as an adhesive. These new microbots use conductive adhesive to attach the components to a double-sided flexible printed circuit board using surface mount technology. The circuit is then folded into thirds and wrapped around the ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit). On top, a solar cell generates power for the robot and delivers 3.6 V to the unit, which is enough for it to walk. Locomotion is achieved via three vibrating legs, while a fourth horizontal vibrating leg is used as a touch sensor."
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Swarms of Solar Powered Microbots On the Way

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:38AM (#29272025)

    Crichton had a novel about this back in '02. Prey [wikipedia.org]

    Like all his books, interesting but not necessarily plausible.

  • by EdZ (755139) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:39AM (#29272031)
    They're already programmed at a particularly high level: they're swarm robots. Yout don;t give them instructions, you give them goals. Why would you want memory on board anyway when you can just broadcast it back to a central storage device? These are the sensor and manipulator portions of the swarm, they only NEED to sense and manipulate.
  • by malbrech (197107) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:01AM (#29272147) Homepage

    Somebody remembers that Gibson novel where exactly these things were made of nano components, and therefore so light that they could fly (suspend would be the more accurate word)?

    OK, I 'll give them ten years to get there ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:09AM (#29272189)

    Somebody remembers that Gibson novel where exactly these things were made of nano components, and therefore so light that they could fly (suspend would be the more accurate word)?

    OK, I 'll give them ten years to get there ...

    Wasn't it Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer"

  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:36AM (#29272415)

    Somebody remembers that Gibson novel

    You're thinking of Stanislaw Lem's "The Invincible", dating from the early 1970's, at least in translation. The original Polish may have been late '60's.

    For some reason no one ever cites this book as the source of so many ideas about autonomous swarm robots, which Lem called "synthects" for "synthetic insects", although it predates everyone else's "discovery" of these ideas by decades.

  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:06AM (#29272681)

    Wake me up when I'm able to program these in a high level language with a decent amount of memory onboard.

    You see, this is the beauty of having a swarm -- you don't need any individual to have a lot of brainpower. We see the same thing in ants (and Red Sox fans), one ant has an IQ barely higher than that of a carrot but is programmed with one simple set of instructions. When millions of creatures with different simple sets of instructions end up bumping into each other and interacting, some extremely complex and "intelligent" behaviors can emerge -- ants build underground cities with temperature control and hydroponic gardens. They keep slaves and livestock. Ants wage large scale war. This is pretty impressive for a creature with only about 100 neurons each, until you realize how little each ant has to do, and that all of the higher level function comes from the millions of minute interactions between individuals, which is often personified as the "hive mind".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:35AM (#29273543)

    Hizook.com has some cool videos showing the micro robots moving around. Worth checking out.

    http://www.hizook.com/blog/2009/08/29/i-swarm-micro-robots-realized-impressive-full-system-integration [hizook.com]

  • by rantingkitten (938138) <kitten AT mirrorshades DOT org> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @05:01PM (#29278191) Homepage
    He may also be thinking of Stephenson's "The Diamond Age", where nanotechnology is the main technological component of the novel. Part of it describes a large swarm of these microbots patrolling the perimeter and interior of a city looking for and defeating pathogens.. and outsider microbots. If he's trying to cite Gibson I think it's more likely he got mixed up with Stephenson since they are contemporaries, but what do I know what this guy reads? :)

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