Teeny tiny robots -
February 24, 2001 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Teeny tiny robots - Neato!
posted by plinth (6 comments total)
VERY neato - I'd love to have a fleet of them to play with.

Unfortunate that the most prominent thought on all the engineers minds are how these can be used for military applications. I'd think that there are far more constructive uses for such devices.

Indeed, though they'd be somewhat limited, I imagine they might be quite useful at maintaining large machinery - they could scoot around and find problems before they became a liability. Kinda like a bunch of little R2 units for your car, aircraft carrier, etc.
posted by aladfar at 1:01 PM on February 24, 2001

I was discussing a similar point with a friend of mine, aladfar.

He said that it's good that we have high military spending, if only for the R&D and tech side. He gave examples of consumer/personal technology that has come from military research.

I thought that the R&D could have just as easily been done in a non-military government-funded lab, and produce the same technologies and results. I'd love to hear MeFier comments. Do we need all that military spending? $100 billion to the Pentagon each year?
posted by gramcracker at 1:06 PM on February 24, 2001

The first four words on my mind after reading this article were "mobile hidden cameras" and "surveillance".

After all, high-tech spying already seems to have become a favorite pastime for the government, and this (albeit neat) little thingie certainly won't change that for the better.

So; anyone know of technologies available for detecting bugs like these, and "neutralizing" them? We better get ready for the age of sneaky nanobots...

As for the R&D funding question, my vote is down for private companies. As long as the government'll let us keep our own money, so that we can support funky Dean Kamen'ish labs, that is.
posted by frednorman at 1:55 PM on February 24, 2001

Sandia has done some very interesting work on this subject. So far, one of the most innovative areas has been that of MEMS, or Micro Electro Mechanical Systems. They have made fully functional Silicon based systems that are on a micron scale.
posted by TractorInc at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2001

How fast could a tiny robot find ANYTHING? I dunno..but having one would be so boss, cause it could get crushed so fast!

More interesting to me was the one line mention of a gun that can shoot "material" 20 times faster than a rifle...is it a railgun? A pulse cannon? What's its use? Can it shoot down satellites and airplanes? Go through 40 feet of rebar blast-hardened concrete? Are the little robots target designators for this fearsome SuperGun?

posted by Capn_Stuby at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2001

The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea.
They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall
mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by
small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is
clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
-- Military school Commandant's graduation address, "The Secret War of
Lisa Simpson"

posted by samsara at 6:05 AM on February 26, 2001

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