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Robotics

Direct Digital Manufacturing

Technology
Direct Digital Manufacturing
Saturday, December 8, 2007
2 Comments :: Article Rating :: Computer Graphics, Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, e-commerce

You browse the site looking for the product you are interested in. You read some of the reviews to see what other people think of it. You check all the images, 3D models of the product and its interactive features. Finally you decide that it’s worth the money and you go ahead and pay for it. Somewhere else, in the middle of the country, a machine comes to life. It has received a command from an online retailer to make a product. The machine is given the Universal Standard Identification Number of the product. It contacts a product database and downloads the latest design data for your selected product. This digital data contains all the information necessary to manufacture the product. Having finished downloading the data, it starts the fabrication process using appropriate material. After a while, the fabrication of different components of the product is completed. These parts are assembled together with an assembly robot. The product is then sent via conveyors for packaging and is finally shipped to you.

This is the future of rapid product manufacturing and delivery. Today, such technology is mainly used by engineers for rapid prototyping. As the machines become more sophisticated, as the internet gets more mature and as global logistics becomes ever more efficient, there comes a time that products are made one at a time based on order; manufacture-on-demand. Perhaps there will always be a need to mass manufacture common products for efficiency, but as the Long Tail has shown us, there is a lot of scope in making low-volume products with infinite diversity for every taste.

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Self Replicating Machines

Technology
Self Replicating Machines
Monday, November 12, 2007
1 Comments :: Article Rating :: Robotics, Mechanical Engineering

You are amazed by its sheer complexity. You can see machines of all types. This thing makes everything; digger robots for mining, transport robots, warehouse robots, energy capturing robots, assembly robots, designer robots, repair robots, meta-repair robots and everything in between. The end result of all this effort; more robots.

You don’t want to call this thing a factory although that is a close approximation. You like to think of the whole system as one big self-replicating machine. It is all self-contained and self-maintained by machines. We had never had it so good. Life is easy …

Self-replicating machines have long been a goal humans have longed for. Its advantages are clear. You setup the machine once and it doesn’t need human intervention. It can go on its own business and make the final product you are after while making all other products necessary to sustain itself, find energy and material and also grow its production capacity if required.

Self-replication can be considered in two separate scales; macro and nano. In macro scale, self-replicating machines are usually depicted as robots while nano-scale self-replicators are used to construct nano-machines used for a different set of applications. For example, macro scale self-replicators can be used to terraform a planet and make it habitable, while the nano-scale replicators can be used to hunt for cancer cells in a human body and attempt to kill them.

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Robotics

Technology
Robotics
Friday, November 9, 2007
4 Comments :: Article Rating :: Space, Artifical Intelligence, Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, Electronics Engineering

You are sitting in a football (soccer) stadium. There is a huge crowd. You know that apart from the 100,000 people in the stadium, there must be at least a couple of billion people watching the event. This is unprecedented and there has been a huge media interest for this. By now, everyone on the planet must know what is about to happen today. A lot of the details have been deliberately kept secret, so anticipations are high. It feels more like a product lunch of a super-cool gadget than a competition between several teams. But, oh galaxies, isn’t this exciting. The teams have been practicing for years, but everyone is drawn into anticipation to see what is about to happen. It is World Cup after all, and it is the first game between two very interesting teams. One is the champion from last World Cup and the other is, well, a team of robots! The referee blows his whistle and the captain of Team Invincible kicks the ball. Here we go … They are so agile. Wow, this is going to be a close one. Is it actually possible that they could win, in a fair game? That will be news indeed. First time in history! They look so lifelike and superior, you feel you don’t want to mess with them. It’s as if everyone wants both sides to win. Humans versus machines. At last, the dream is coming true. The football of the century; 11 humans versus 11 robots and one goal: to win the World Cup. Humans want it just as bad as the robots. It is 2050

Robotics is a technology that most people are familiar with as the idea of intelligent machines is quite old. Numerous works of fiction and movies on this subject show how interested we are in making and using robots for a variety of applications.

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Virtual Robotics

Technology
Virtual Robotics
Sunday, October 28, 2007
0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Artifical Intelligence, Computer Graphics, Robotics

You bump into a pretty girl on your way to Mount Blue. She has a very nice body with exotic flowing dress which dances on her body as she moves. She has caught your attention. You decide to say hi. She responds and you start a casual chit chat with her. She seems very nice. Her name is Red Roosa. You are already thinking about changing your plans. She seems very friendly and very relaxed. You ask her if she is interested to go to a Night Club you have recently discovered. It’s new and is quite flashy. They have these new interactive dance routines which means you can influence the dance for the group as a whole. Mmmmm, going with her should be fun. You take her there, and well, you go for a dance. It’s incredible. She is really a nice person. The dance heats up and you are just wondering what to do next. Anything is possible …

Now, imagine if suddenly someone who was also in the dance club sent you an instant message saying “Not to ruin your night or anything, but did you know Red Roosa is a bot?”

You reply only to him, so that Red Roosa can’t see your chat, “Oh really! I didn’t know. Ok, well, thanks for letting me know.” You get back to her and carry on from where you were as if nothing has changed …

Avatars in a virtual world usually represent a person. However, an avatar can also be driven by an artificial intelligence. This is what the guy was referring to when he said she is a bot (robot).

A bot in a virtual world can look like any other and may prove to be more difficult to differentiate with real humans. Interaction between virtual robots and humans will become more complex and commonplace as virtual worlds become mainstream.

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Mars Colony

Technology
Mars Colony
Saturday, September 29, 2007
11 Comments :: Article Rating :: Space, Artifical Intelligence, Robotics, Mechanical Engineering

You are standing on the surface of Mars and are wondering how much effort it took humanity to get this far. In front of you there are three domes. One is your habitat, the other is used to extract water from the ice found in the rocks underneath and the third is the amazing BioGenDome, the eco system that supports life, you and is the main reason you are on this planet.

It took several spaceships, many missions and a lot of engineering to set them up. It’s been many year since that historic day when men set foot on Mars. A lot has happened since then. It still took anywhere between 6 month to two years for a round trip from Earth. The long term residents had to make this place like their home. Most of the difficulty wasn’t the lack of resources or day-to-day survival issues, though these had to be addresses anyway. The biggest problem was psychological. It could be very lonely here. With just a handful of people, there wasn’t much to interact with. At least you can be sure of one thing now. This mission, this whole colony, wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t because of the robots. They made all the difference. Everybody thought that the robot’s most important use on Mars would be to explore, make geological and biological discoveries or help us make the domes. Instead it turned out that they were far more useful as companions. We use them like pets. It’s wonderful. They are quite intelligent, though they are really like pets because sometimes they don’t understand the most obvious things. Either way, we love them. They keep us happy, engage us mentally and emotionally and it always feels that they know us better than ourselves. They make this place much more bearable. Actually it’s quite enjoyable here. “Hey R. Andy, where have you been all this time. I was starting to get worried…”

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