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Building Powerful Robots With God's Materials

From KHouse
In an old joke, a scientist claims that he can do anything that God can do. When God says, "All right, you go ahead and make a man," the scientist responds, "Okay! I will!" The scientist starts to reach down to grab a handful of earth, but God stops him. "Nuh-uh," God says. "Go get your own dirt." 

We still cannot build humans, from dirt or otherwise, and even C3PO is years away. Yet, robotics engineers have been able to construct machines that can do some amazing and useful things, bringing us ever closer to the droids we may or may not be looking for. It Takes a Licking…: The Swiss have built a flying robot that has been designed to hit the wall. At least, it has been built durable enough to bang into things without "crunch" crashing lifelessly to the ground.  Instead, it uses the bump to reorient itself and keep zooming through the air. If it does get knocked down, it can get up again. Even the most sensitive robots sometimes crash in cluttered areas, and when they do, the collision puts them out of commission. This robot - dubbed "AirBurr" – could be used by search and rescue to maneuver through obstacle-filled environments without expensive and complicated sensors. It keeps things simple. AirBurr can enter areas that might be dangerous or impossible for humans to go after a disaster. Nuclear radiation, noxious gasses, flooded and clogged emergency areas don't faze these flying gadgets, which can smack into rubble, crash into the ground, then get back up and continue on their mission. "We believe that this new paradigm will bring flying robots out of the laboratory and allow them to tackle unstructured, cluttered environments," Swiss researchers said in a 2012 paper for the International Conference on Complex Medical Engineering. Besides built-in durability, the trick for these hoverbots is a clearly specified center of gravity. If the robot crashes, carbon fiber legs push out and scramble it into an upright position. Once it is sitting in the proper orientation, it can lift back off straight up into the air.