Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines

© 2004 Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Ralph C. Merkle. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2004.


3.26 Robosphere Self-Sustaining Robotic Ecologies (2002-2004)

In November 2002, Silvano P. Colombano, a computer scientist at NASA/Ames Research Center, organized the first workshop on self-sustaining robotic ecologies called “Robosphere 2002” (Figure 3.82) [1300], with a second workshop scheduled for November 2004 [1301] and longer-term plans for a facility (Robosphere1) for experimentation on self-sustaining robotic activities and a virtual Robosphere environment (VRobosphere) for simulations at NASA. The stated purpose of the Robosphere effort is to “explore the possibility of long term or continuous robotic presence on planetary surfaces and in space, in order to increase scientific returns, decrease exploration costs and greatly decrease any chances of mission failures. The underlying notion is that of self-sustaining robotic ecologies, where the continuous survival and exploration activities of robotic teams and colonies are dependent on the exchange of matter, energy and information among robotic individuals and ‘species’.”

Topics discussed at the 2002 Robosphere workshop included:

  1. Small robotic teams capable of mutual repair (modular robotics; reconfigurable robotics; self-repair, recycling and self-replication);
  2. Robotics outposts (functional specialization; energy production; shelter construction (for robots); utilization/production of parts);
  3. Planetary robotic infrastructures (robotic “oases”; robotic “highways”; robotic “factories”; scientific exploration infrastructure; communications/networks); and
  4. Robotic colony autonomy (distributed planning and scheduling; mixed-initiative planning; distributed execution monitoring and diagnosis; self-organization and cooperative strategies; colony models from biology and ecology, swarms; robotic ecologies with different scales, from rovers to nanorobots).

Papers were presented on self-replicating robots [977], robotic fabrication [1302] and robotic assembly [1303], robotic ecologies [1304, 1305], self-reconfiguring robots [1306], and autonomous robotics [1307, 1308].


Last updated on 1 August 2005