Scientists Unleash Robot Horde On Humanity

    May 17, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Husband and wife scientists at the University of Wyoming receive a grant to develop their swarm of robots.

In the wake of Cornell University’s demonstration of self-replicating robots, scientists at the University of Wyoming have developed robots that can detect the sources of chemical or biological contamination.

The robots could demonstrate their usefulness in the event of a feared terrorist attack with a biological weapon, or a chemical spill within a storage facility. A group of robots, communicating with each other and with human minders, would converge on the source of the contamination.

This advance would be useful today at a place like the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, where the Army has had difficulty locating a sarin nerve gas leak within a sealed storage igloo. The building contains 2,500 rockets loaded with the toxin.

But for now, the robots exist mostly on paper, and in computer simulations. On one of the scientist’s web sites, a video of seven robots can be seen getting into formation and jointly moving toward a goal.

The scientists, Diana and William Spears, have received a $100,000 USD grant from the National Science Foundation to build their robots.

In a Laramie Boomerang story, scientist Diana Spears said: “Somebody from the National Science Foundation came out here and said we had the best robotics work he’d ever seen.”

A swarm of robots seeking a chemical leak can cover more territory than a single robot, and if one robot encounters a problem and can’t take part in a search, others can cover for it. And potentially, those robots could call upon another robot to decontaminate the problem.

Chemical detection will be the feature of the first robots the scientists and their team will develop. Robots would be equipped with the technology needed to measure wind direction and speed, and sensors to measure the chemicals detected.

The developers will build their prototype robots with an eye on having operational ones available in a year. At that time, they would demonstrate the technology to interested parties like the military.

Should they succeed with the demonstration, more funding would be forthcoming. Future developments could be for robot hordes capable of swimming, or even flight.

Maybe someday, they’ll even be able to self-replicate.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.