Thursday, November 16, 2006

Robot Holocaust Part [I Don't Remember]: Destroyer, Heal Thyself!

Great. Now our inevitable overlords are just going to be harder to destroy--not that they weren't already:
New Robot Adapts to Injuries

A newly designed robot can sense and recover from unexpected damage, an ability that is sure to prove handy in dangerous terrain, researchers announced today.

Living organisms have the ability to continuously evaluate their abilities and surroundings and adjust their behavior accordingly. If a person twists an ankle, he walks differently so as to not put too much pressure on the injured muscles.

But robots aren’t typically equipped with such capabilities. They are programmed with a rigid model describing them and the surrounding environment. When they become damaged or something unexpected occurs, they are typically unable to adapt, limiting their potential.

Often when exploring new terrain, such as on another a planet, researchers cannot predict what a robot might encounter. So they designed a machine that can improvise in response to unexpected injuries.

Referred to as Starfish, the new four-legged robot creates a model of itself and revises that model to respond and adapt to injury by synthesizing new behaviors.
"Starfish," eh? Sure, it sounds cute and quaint, but think about this: A starfish often feeds on its prey (like a clam) by prying open the clam's shell and forcing its stomach into the clam to digest it "on the half shell." Let's hope our robot predators' relationship with us doesn't come to that.

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