When Is a Robot Not Mechanical? When It's an Android
Made of silicone and rat heart cells, the Medusoid engineered jellyfish's muscles contract like a real jellyfish when placed in liquid and shocked. (Source: California Institute of Technology/Harvard University)
Interesting that the military has such a large role in robotics developments, Ann. I would imagine it's like an iceberg -- what the militrary reveals is probably a small portion of the overall work in this area. A good portion of it is probably secret.
Thanks for explaining, Rob. From what I've seen, most of the new, exploding research is aimed at solving very specific problems, and much of it is being funded by the military. A considerably smaller amount, such as Medusoid, is aimed at fundamental, or "raw", research, but a lot of that looks applicable to some the purpose-driven work.
What made me curious, Ann, was the growing number of robotic developments that don't seem to be specifically tied to solving problems. Seems like a lot of the developments are raw research -- which I think if great. I would guess that part of it is that working on robots is fun.
Rob, as I mentioned, several trends are coming together and interacting to boost robotics development, including open source software and cheaper and better electronics (such as cameras and MEMS gyros and other sensors). No doubt motion control advances figure in there, too. Did you have some specific one sin mind? In addition, the Medusoid is an example of the emergence of biorobotics we're starting to see more of.
Since the article mentioned that that the device (maybe not the right word there) using living tissue, I was wondering what they are doing to keep it alive? Is it simply extracting the nutrients it needs out of the solution it is operating in? Taking that thought one step further, what is the life-span of something like this and how are the non-living parts recycled with new heart muscle?
By the way, I was thinking the same thing that naperlou said. From the title, I was wondering about a robotic cell phone.
Ann, what are some of the other trends driving developments in robotics? I would imagine advances in motion control is a factor. From you articles, it also sounds like funding at universities is helping. Military funding also seems to be a factor. The filling of specific needs seems to be less of a factor. But I may be wrong about that.
Ann, great article and I loved the video. Though crude, the movement was much more lifelike than I anticipated. My mind reels at the possible applications to real-life biological systems. I expect the field of bio-ethics to explode in the next 10 years as we humans grappled with these developments. As you say, this is the stuff of Science Fiction staring us right in the face. Exciting to say the least.
Hmm. I didn't realize open source software was part of the development process of these robots, Ann. I'm sure that's hugely helpful. At any rate, we seem to be in some golden age for developments in robots.
Unlike industrial robots, which suffered a slight overall slump in 2012, service robots continue to be increasingly in demand. The majority are used for defense, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and agriculture, such as milking robots.
Festo's BionicKangaroo combines pneumatic and electrical drive technology, plus very precise controls and condition monitoring. Like a real kangaroo, the BionicKangaroo robot harvests the kinetic energy of each takeoff and immediately uses it to power the next jump.
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These are the toys that inspired budding engineers to try out sublime designs, create miniature structures, and experiment with bizarre contraptions using sets that could be torn down and reconstructed over and over.
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