The robo-pocalypse concept is still good for a laugh, as the toughest autonomous robots out there are shaped like Frisbees and suck the dust off your floor for a living. But deep in the bowels of the military research complex, scientists are working hard to wipe that grin off your face.
The latest sign is a Navy plan to develop swarms of micro-robots that can build things all on their own, including other robots. Yes, we're talking about the tipping point when robots don't need us anymore.
The Navy is looking to leverage desktop manufacturing technology--think 3D printing--to make swarms of tiny, efficient factories that create new materials and can be choreographed to build and assemble "high-value components."
From the proposal:
Each micro-robot would perform a specific task, often a single rudimentary task, repeatedly. Collectively, these tasks would be choreographed in purposeful activities for manufacturing. A micro-robot swarm should be able to perform material synthesis and component assembly, concurrently. The micro-robots could be designed to perform basic operations such as pick and place, dispense liquids, print inks, remove material, join components, etc. These micro-robots should be able to move cooperatively within a workspace to achieve highly efficient synthesis and assembly.