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What they can do right now…

Purely driven by curiosity, I remembered an article from many news reports, probably 40-years ago, about the 2-meter long multi-sectioned robotic snake designed, developed, and constructer by the engineering students at University of South Florida (USF).  The idea, that which made the idea so much news-worthy, the robot train ate grass, consumed it, or rather, digested it, to develop the electrical energy required to operate the robot.

Of course, and I’d be surprised if you haven’t already thought about it yourself, who cleans up all the robot poop?  Yea, right.  There were plenty of jokes about it, and many of the reporters asked what they actually believed to be intelligent questions.  Asking intelligent questions, normally requires intelligence. 

Believe it, or don’t, some reporter idiot asked, “What if it escapes USF and tries to eat a child?”  I’m certain that duffas never got past a “D-” in science.  Actually, that thing worked… sort of.  In reality, the robot had to eat a massive amount of grass, and before it could get enough lawn and composting material to generate sufficient heat inside it to make a single volt, it went dead.  

Point is, it would have worked, if the material it eat had more calories per cubic centimeter of gut material to digest.  I wanted to know if what I remembered about that robot grass cutter had happened in this timeline, or had Mandela erased it, or changed it.?

Actually, it was a great idea.  One of the ideas purported by the team in the text, was a robot of like kind, designed to repair roofing tiles.  In Florida, we use a type of tar, paper, and sand mixture to ward off the extreme high temperatures of the nearly direct and perpendicular sunlight, torrential rains, and hurricane winds.  Their idea of a 8-pound roof-bot would crawl around the roof, never falling off, and make repairs via materials it could carry on board, melted by heat from the sunlight.  At the time, 1980’s, the concept was new and refreshing, and useful.  The grass eater, maybe not so much.

So… while I was searching, guess what they did?  That same group of bored scientist, newer ones as well because most of the first group became old farts long ago, they made one that eats meat.  This multi-segmented snake-like robot, doesn’t seem to do, anything, but eat meat.  And when it runs out of power, somebody has to feed it.  Fellow students feed it a chunk of meat.  What?  

Let me tell you something.  A few years ago, in my normal course of study and research in topics of this technology, I saw a robot bust, a female bust, from the bottom of the rib-cage up, bust only, wavy blonde hair, massive double “E” chevage, and seemingly wearing a strapless fluffy white knit top as a blouse.  That robotic, blonde, overly endowed female bust was designed, intentionally and on purpose, to sit on a bar-top, where customers could see it.  The customer could drop a few coins in a slot at the base of the bot, and the bust would gyrate for a few seconds, and her top would drop down to expose the “EE” vinyl plastic breast with gigantic painted areola and then the fabric top would return to cover the fake mammary pair again. ???  

The inventor was proud of it and he expected it would be in every tavern all over the globe.  It was invented and made in Japan, of course, and they were proud of it.  Japan also explains the blonde, and the massive glands, but who did they expect would drop in coins to see such a stupid thing?  Well… apparently they expected the drunk Japanese men would.  Meanwhile, this meat-eating robot was named “Chew Chew”… and that’s what made me think of the robot bust stripper in Japan.  More than we should be required to, we often suffer ignorance, and are expected to smile.

I’ve added the link for the meat-eater if you want to read it, and who knows, in twenty years, you’ll see an article about the robot that designed it’s own progeny, and that article has a tinge of “Oh Crap” built into it.  I’ve searched for that one too, and it’s gone.  In that one, the computer was programed to create an ambulatory device to explore a meter square flat surface, without falling from the edge.  The computer designed 130-itterations of various styles, and eventually, all designs were eliminated as non-worthy, by the computer, until the final three.  One of which, actually completed the goal.

Carved out by the computer via CNC machine, 3D-print hadn’t come out yet, the final design was manufactured from solid plastic.  The only human intervention, was to install a battery power cell including copper wire, and electronics following the computers design and instructions.

The progeny was a three piece segmented snake like device, 7cm in length, that could move, on it’s own.  It moved like an inch-worm, and according to a program, built into the device by the computers design.  It flopped and crawled all over the table, until the power went too low to drive the “nitinol muscle wire” tendons the computer had designed for locomotion.  It had zero motors.  For your information, Nitinol is a wire that, when bent, will regain it’s original shape when a current is applied.  As a muscle, a single fine strand, thinner than your hair, will pull a penny-weight with less than half an amp.  When you bundle them, you get mechanical muscle, a lot like the one in your arm, but metal.  One more thing about that… the reason for the fluid flowing in most of those robots you’ve seen, like Honda, and Big Dog, and Spot, is cooling.  Those drive motors, and the Nitinol, need to be cooled.  The robots have blood, but it ain’t like mine, or yours.  They use liquids like ammonia, or polyethylene glycol because they conduct heat a lot faster.  They simply vent the heat with radiators and fans. We sweat, they don’t.

I don’t ever expect to drop coins into a stupid blonde robotic stripper, but I may drive across the state of Florida, to watch a computer design a robot to perform a particular task.  And by the way… if knowing they did that 30-years ago, does not cause you concern, I guess you haven’t done enough research into what they can do right now… or perhaps where we will find ourselves in another 30-years.

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Written by Doron

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