Mama Robots Building Baby-Bots, Perfect Robotics Job
Imagine a mama robot cloning herself into a whole family of bots. Thank goodness that can’t happen…or can it?
Mama-Bots’ Robotics Job: Babies
Think of the chilling, robotic voice of Hal in the movie2001: A Space Odyssey. Science fiction has a wonderful way of anticipating the future. I’m fond of R2D2’s and CP3O’s robotics jobs, but I find the too-fast-to-track robots that haunt the movie theaters today a little unnerving.
Robots can clone themselves now, and they are getting pretty good at building a better robot. University of Cambridge scientists have designed a mother robot whose robotics jobs is to build baby robots. Once a robot becomes self-aware and self-duplicating (replicating); she can use her machine intelligence to build her children bigger (or smaller for nanobots), faster, and ever-better.
How Mama-Bot Did It
The robot cloning machine scientists (roboticists) are led by Cambridge Engineering researcher androboticist Fumya Iida. They published the research about their mother-bot, an arm-shaped robot. Their paper describes how the team instructed her to build 10 children and decide which of her baby-bots performed best.
“The mother measured how far one of its babies could travel from its starting position in a given amount of time.”
She used natural selection to decide which bot was the best, and then she cloned that one. According to Iida:
“Natural selection is basically reproduction, assessment, reproduction, assessment and so on. That’s essentially what this robot is doing—we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species.”
Mama-Bot Did Great!
Iida and team programmed the mother robot to incorporate the improved information on her next robotics job – building the next generation of babies. The purpose of the exercise was to find out if there was any difference between a scientist’s simulation and the actual process of the mother-bot building baby-bots. The difference was astounding. Mother-bots build better baby-bots!
Iida looks to nature for ideas about how to better design robots:
“One of the big questions in biology is how intelligence came about—we’re using robotics to explore this mystery. We think of robots as performing repetitive tasks, and they’re typically designed for mass production instead of mass customization, but we want to see robots that are capable of innovation and creativity.”
Rosie The Robot
As far as humanoid robots go, Iida thinks we are decades away:
“It’s still a long way to go before we’ll have robots that look, act, and think like us. But what we do have are a lot of enabling technologies that will help us import some aspects of biology to the engineering world.”
I wonder if mama-bots ever worry about their baby-bots sending them to the robot nursing home? That must be where Rosie The Robot, from the ‘60’s television show, The Jetsons, most surely went. It would break my heart to think otherwise.