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