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September 22, 2010 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Flying Swarming Robots
posted by rouftop (9 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

On the one hand, what could possibly go wrong?

On the other hand, SO AWESOME!
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:52 AM on September 22, 2010

These could be fitted with sharpened points and used to control pigeon infestations. I suppose you'd need a land-based crew for cleanup.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:55 AM on September 22, 2010

I foresee Skydancers 2: The robotic child massacre: In 2000, the CPSC announced that over 150 children fell prey to Sky Dancer's helicopter-blade arms and erratic "Oh-Jesus-it's-chasing-me!" flying patterns.
posted by yeloson at 12:06 PM on September 22, 2010

These could be fitted with sharpened points and used to control pigeon infestations. I suppose you'd need a land-based crew for cleanup.

This is sort of related. Conservation, military style:

"The slide show was informative ('Without our help, the survival rate of the desert tortoise is 1 per cent'), moving ('To a raven, a freshly hatched tortoise is like a walking ravioli'), and amusing ('Here we see several tortoises in parade formation after completing their training at Fort Irwin'). The scientists proudly showed off awards for their environmental work, including a controversial one from the Sierra Club ('Some members didn't think it was right to give one to the Big Green'). And they were matching the warfighters, chip for chip, in the information war. Tortoises were tagged with transmitters, tracked with radio telemetry, and graphed in grid locations with computers. Landsat satellites identify potential breeding areas, aerial mine detection technology locate nesting sites, and electronic sensors warn off intruders."
posted by outlandishmarxist at 12:13 PM on September 22, 2010

I suppose you'd need a land-based crew for cleanup.

A land based robot crew, of course.
posted by The World Famous at 2:46 PM on September 22, 2010

I expected to see these Arduino-powered quad-copter things when I clicked through, but a fixed-wing design makes more sense if you're trying to do actual useful work with them - I'm sure you get longer flight times out of a single-prop flying wing.

Very cool idea for temporary, rapid-deployment communications networks. (Though I can imagine "it's windy, so the network's down" problems.
posted by richyoung at 2:59 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Beautiful things will kill us.
posted by SPrintF at 6:40 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of an essay by Stanislav Lem, I wish I could remember which book. Anyway, he hypothesized nanomech weaponry. Swarms of microscopic flying robots made of plutonium would converge over the target and smash into each other, creating a nuclear explosion. There is no conventional defense, you could shoot holes in the cloud and there would still be enough of them to reach critical mass. The weapons would be small and capable of carrying only a limited computerized control system, but that would be sufficient. Nanoweapons don't need artificial intelligence to function, they only need "artificial instinct" akin to the instincts of an insect. They only need enough ability to swarm and attack a target.

You could leave nanoweapons flying continuously in clouds over the enemy, or even salted over the ground just waiting for the signal to take wing, converge and detonate. Of course this would result in an escalating nanoweapons war, attacking the nanoweapons with nano-antinanoweapons. The world's surface would be covered with weaponized particles the size of dust, fighting a war on a scale invisible to humans. The air would be full of nanoweapons, you could inhale and exhale a battlefield without noticing.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:14 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Very cool idea, i can see a lot of potential
posted by element[0] at 10:38 PM on September 30, 2010

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