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Robotics Science

DARPA Planning Liquid Robots 125

moon_monkey writes "According to New Scientist, Darpa is soliciting proposals for so-called Chemical Robots (ChemBots) that would be soft, flexible and could manoeuvre through openings smaller than their static structural dimensions. They suggest that it could be made from shape-memory materials, electro- or magneto-rheological materials or even folding components."
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DARPA Planning Liquid Robots

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  • by igotmybfg ( 525391 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:15AM (#18603429) Homepage
    *Holds up picture of John Connor*
  • And don't forget the requisite interface to SkyNet.
    • Not likely, as SkyNet [] is part of the British Military. Though, I guess there could be a connection via "allied forces." RunAway!
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:16AM (#18603449) Homepage Journal
    The small creatures discussed can only get through places where their bone structure allows.
    Its inpractical for a mouse to get through somewhere that involves breaking its own bones (unless a mouse is chasing it!).
    Make boney robots with flubber muscles and batteries and you are onto a winner.
    No flex required in the skeleton.
    • unless a mouse is chasing it

      of course I meant cat and please ignore the other cockups and errors.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Torvaun ( 1040898 )
      Why should it be a mouse? If we compare it to a shark, we've got much more flexible cartilage. Such a robot might be capable of passing through spaces smaller than the smallest dimension of the largest structural member. Even better would be if we went with an amoeba or something similar, where there are no bones at all, merely controlled motive forces. Are there any engineering specialists around to tell me if there's any good way to do something like that?
  • Usage (Score:3, Funny)

    by Chris whatever ( 980992 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:18AM (#18603473)
    I would by a door made out of this material and it would slap solicitors whenever they knock at my door.
  • by Chineseyes ( 691744 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:19AM (#18603511)
    Now when someone asks what crawled up your ass they might be very serious.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      Now when someone asks what crawled up your ass they might be very serious.

      Might be better than the way the doctor or airport security does it.
  • Sounds to me like they want something out of the Terminator 2 movie. I'm not exactly sure what they want with a robotic slug though. The design request seems pretty weird to me.
  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:43AM (#18603909) Homepage Journal
    The Governator Arnold must be notified immediately, his presence in our world was not in vain. He will still have his fight before he is 120.
  • by Geekfather ( 1012353 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:44AM (#18603921)
  • ...while blending to the tiled floor
  • What, it only takes 40 years for the DoD to pick up on cheesy B-grade sci fi movies?

    I always really liked the skit about the "Snit" - scientists supposedly create an organism that is comprised of the perfect form of protein.

    Interviewer: "What does it look like?"
    Scientist: "Kind of like guacamole, with eyes."

    and a bit later on...

    Scientist: "The only problem is we haven't figured out how to kill it."
    Interviewer: "Have you tried grinding it up?"
    Scientist: "Yes, we just get more snits.

    and at the end...

  • Just getting the obligatory stuff over with ...

    I for one welcome our new chemical-robotic, payload-carrying overlords.

    In UK you watch 'Robot Wars',
    In Soviet US robot watches YOU!

  • I think most of us here have 'hands-on' experience with this already...
  • Gah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @10:01AM (#18604205)
    Variable, flexible and soft is not liquid.
        - liquid implies no strong bonding between neighboring particals, the particals are free to change their relationships with each other.

    Remote control is not robot.
        - robot is autonomous.

    This was a rant.
    • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:08AM (#18605509)
      a mimetic polyalloy
    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      Incorrect. Water for example has strong bonding between neighboring water molecules. Instead groups of water molecules are free to change their relations with each other. Then there's silly putty [], which is solid at small time scales (it'll bounce for example). But it flows as a liquid on a time scale of hours. And you can knead silly putty.

      Basically, it is liquid if you have the properties you mention at some distance and time scale. My take is that this chemical robot need not have the properties of a li

  • I, for one, welcome our grey-goo making liquid overlords!
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @10:24AM (#18604613)
    Somebody says "hey, this remarkable thing might be possible." DARPA says "Hey, we should investigate and see if that's useful."

    Remember the inter-net? "Connect multiple computers with disparate architectures manufactured and designed by multiple manufacturers into a single integrated network architecture with seamless sharing of data, regardless of native format." I was vaguely associated with the development work DARPA did on this back in the early 80's - I was sure they were chasing a pipe-dream. DARPA often does, you know.

    Yup - if only one pipe-dream in a hundred ever makes it, the internet sure shows that the other ninety-nine pipes weren't wasted; we can use 'em as tubes for the intarweb. So even if we don't come up with a Cyberdyne T-1000, let's see if something useful does come out of this research. Remember, the Nautilus, space travel, powered flight, even travel in excess of fifty to sixty miles per hour were all once ridiculous ideas - all theoretically impossible for many good scientific reasons. Now, we have nuclear submarines, (arguably) reusable spacecraft, jet travel and teenagers who can't seem to drive at less than seventy to eighty miles per hour!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I want Fem-Bots! Groovy, baby...
  • but wouldn't eat the livers... hopefully.
  • Remember: it's not funny if it's so obvious.
  • Will we see UN, other foreigners, and some Americans push for the conrol over them to become international in 30 years? Because, you know, the big and evil US will be abusing them left and right...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wasn't there some of teen band named My Chemical Robot?
  • Smart enough to develop the liquid robots.
  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:02PM (#18607671) Homepage
    The designs for Robots of various types, and uses have been around for years. Hollywood is by no means a bastion of creativity. But the main problem that seems to be overlooked by most Wanna-Be Robot Inventors is the POWER SUPPLY. I would think that the DARPA folks would first want do some fundamental research, and solve the problem that is the choke point for all Robotics projects.
  • This will end well.

    T-1000 anyone?
  • A robot composed of hot grits, in the shape of a female. Female octopus that is.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.