Robot, heal thy self

Researchers build prototype that can sense and adjust to injuries

We make sport of robots here at Crave on occasion, but it's all in good fun. We'd like to state that for the record, now that we're afraid they may some day rule the world.

Self-healing robot
Science

The latest fodder for our paranoia comes not from watching too many episodes of Battlestar Galactica, but from a reputable periodical. Science magazine is reporting today that mechanical engineers at Cornell University are working on a robot that can recover from injuries--we're not talking Terminator just yet, but it's definitely limping in that direction.

Cornell's four-legged prototype can, for example, sense when it's been injured and take appropriate action. At present, that means adjusting its gait to compensate for a lost limb after "learning" that it's been maimed, though conceivably it could figure out how to replace damaged parts altogether. The article quotes this observation from Dario Floreano of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne: "If an engineer cannot be dispatched to fix the problem, [this new] robot will attempt to change its own control strategy in order to continue the mission." Does the name "Hal" ring a bell?

About the author

    Mike Yamamoto is an executive editor for CNET News.com.

     

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