Thursday, June 7, 2007

Simplicity and Self-Reproduction

A reader submitted a link to a new story
on robotic self-reproduction. The article describes research done at
Cornell on self-reproducing machines. The researchers have manually
designed both real and virtual self-reproducing machines to demonstrate
their feasibility. They are now starting to artificially evolve
self-reproducing machines. The manually
designed prototypes are called molecubes and look like 10 cm cubes that
can swivel and connect to other cubes. The cube-based robots are able to
assemble exact duplicates of themselves. The researchers believe the key
to making this work is keeping the building blocks simple, just as
evolution resulted in complex biological organisms built from a
repertoire of only about 20 different amino acids. In addition to
self-reproduction, these robots can reconfigure at will, a feature handy
on long space missions where unforseen problems might
require specialized robots. For all the details, see the paper released
by the researchers, "Evolved and
Designed Self-Reproducing Modular Robotics" (PDF format). We've also
covered some of this research in our an
article last year about resilient machines.


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