A Robot That Can Create Other Robots Has Been Invented
(BrightPress.org) – Scientists at MIT have an interesting new development that could change manufacturing dramatically. While the idea of robots building robots may conjure images of a “Terminator”-style apocalypse, in reality, the concept is a true breakthrough. A new machine subunit from the school’s Center for Bits and Atoms combines intelligence and power with force, changing robotics forever.
On November 22, MIT News announced that the school’s researchers made progress building “flocks of assembler robots” capable of exciting new tasks — including possibly building other robots. The machines, born of a still-developing technology, may be able to assemble just about anything.
The secret, according to Professor Neil Gershenfeld, lies in the subunit, or “voxel.” Typical robotics are fairly basic. Tell a robotic arm where to go and what to grab and it does as it’s told. For the next generation of voxel, however, researchers added intelligence, and the result was structural electronics. The idea is that robots could be more than just tools and instead work together to build large structures. Doctoral student Amira Abdel-Rahman said the units could potentially build other robots of the same size, or even larger.
The technology is fairly new and Gershenfeld doesn’t believe flocks of builder robots will swarm the earth anytime soon. However, the technology is interesting enough that scientists on the project are working with NASA, as well as automobile and aviation companies in the private sector, to develop practical uses for the breakthrough.
While it may be exciting to consider a fully-automated world of builder robots doing humanity’s heavy lifting, the implications it could have on manufacturing jobs could be devastating. Regulators may need to strike a balance to ensure human workers aren’t left out in the cold.
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