The week in robotics: Cornell’s self healing robot and Israel’s miniaturized killing machines

By | November 19, 2006

Cornell Self-healing robotI am finally back after a few days of traveling and so here is the scoop of what happened in the world of robotics since the last update.

Science Magazine has published in its latest issue an article describing a robot that is capable of detecting damage to its own body and adapting its gait accordingly to remain operational. Cornell and Vermont University researchers, Josh Bongard, Victor Zykov, and Hod Lipson designed the robot that maintains multiple models of its own self and then via simulation it selects the best model to use for locomotion. These models are adapted online to compensate for damage in the robot’s actuators thus increasing the robot’s operational robustness. You can watch a video of the self healing robot here.

In the meantime, Israel has established a 5-year plan for developing hornet size killer robots. These “bionic hornets” will be used for collecting information and also assassinating individual targets. The rational behind developing such a device is that it makes little sense to send a $100 million airplane to seek out and destroy a single terrorist. To achieve this goal, Israel will be investing $240 million in nanotechnology research. One can think of the “bionic hornet” as the miniaturization of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that has been used effectively by the US military during the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.