Self-replicating robots a step closer?

According to Science Daily Norwegian scientists have used 3D printers to make self-learning robots. It is not hard to see how useful this might be for space settlers. Just send a 3D printer somewhere: Mars, the asteroids, Miranda, or wherever as long as the are resources. And you could print whatever robot you need at that location.

Self-learning robots are highly desirable in space, whether you are doing scientific exploration or just interested in asteroid mining, since it take several minutes – or even hours – to transmit a signal from far away objects to Earth. So real-life remote control is out of the question when it comes to deep space exploration.

3D-printing is together with in situ resource utilization one of the pillars of the modern space movement. It will reduce the amount of stuff to be launched from Earth, and hence save launch costs. Theoretically one does only need to launch one 3D printer into space, provided that this printer could print the parts of other printers.

And when we combine 3D printers and self-learning robots into one system, then we will get a self-replicating and self-learning robots. Not quite unlike a Von Neumann probe. So I am looking forward to the next stage of this development and will get some inspiration for another nice story.

Using 3-D printers to print out self-learning robots on Science Daily


8 responses

  1. David Brin’s short story, The Crystal Sphere’s, details the optimal method for space exploration undertaken by most civilisations: probes that reproduce, acquiring information and essential improvements as they filter out through the galaxy. Interesting read.

    1. It’s probably the most efficient of exploring (interstellar) space, and though it’s definitely interesting, yet still I am questioning whether such approach would be useful for space colonization (as opposed to mere exploration).

      1. Sadly, interstellar colonisation will be impossible if we stick to our current biological limitations. In this sense, the probes are only useful for information gathering.

      2. >>In this sense, the probes are only useful for information gathering.

        Probably, yes.

        >>Sadly, interstellar colonization will be impossible if we stick to our current biological limitations.

        Unless, we might master wormholes some day. But that’s just pure speculation. Nevertheless, one should not underestimate the time dilation effects of traveling at relativistic speeds. I.e. what might look as 1,000 years for us on Earth, might be just 40 for a space traveler.

      3. That would be a fascinating universe to live in. Our contemporary, and cherished, notions of family and friends would be meaningless. A journey of any substantial distance would mean leaving everyone, and everything, you know. We will have to become less attached to things, like family.

      4. Hence it would be a must to select one’s fellow travelers with great care.

  2. Fascinating developments

    1. They are indeed very fascinating.

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