Multi-purpose Robot Design

Multi-purpose Robot Design
The versatility of the human body is truly amazing. Think of all the things that humans can do. We can walk, jump, climb, and run. We can lift, throw, catch, and push. Our fingers, hands, arms, and legs can do many wonderful things. They can even do multiple different kinds of things, sometimes at the same time. Consider all of the things your mouth can do. You use your mouth to talk, sing, eat, drink, blow, kiss, and smile. Robot designers have not been able to create a robot that can do everything the human body can do. Perhaps taking a cue from the “Transformers” movies, some engineers want to develop a multi-purpose robot design.

The job is not easy. Some are experimenting with the idea of creating heat-activated origami suits that serve as exoskeletons for a robot to allow it to do different tasks. The robot would change costumes to “transform” itself. Just as crawling caterpillars morph into flying butterflies, the goal is to create a robot that transforms itself by taking on a different form as it applies a different suit. The director of the project at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory said, “With this metamorphosis-inspired approach, we can extend the capabilities of a single robot by giving it different accessories to use in different situations.”

It sounds like a very challenging task to create a self-morphing robot. However, changing an outer shell to give the robot different functions is not the same as the metamorphosis of a caterpillar. In a way that is beyond robot engineering, the caterpillar dissolves into mush then reorganizes into something completely different. It doesn’t merely take on a new shell. This worm with no real brain does something that the brightest engineering designers can’t accomplish.

Getting back to the versatility of the human body, that has to be the most significant engineering accomplishment ever. We can do a countless number of different things. Then using the brain that God gave us, we can create tools (even robots) to accomplish the tasks we don’t have the strength or stamina to do. Multi-purpose robot design is a worthy challenge requiring the versatile abilities that only God could give us.

The Journal Science Robots reported on “Robotic metamorphosis by origami exoskeletons” which you can read HERE.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Butterfly Point of View

A Butterfly Point of View
Perhaps it would be good to see the world from a butterfly point of view. One of the wonders of the insect world is the emergence of a butterfly from a cocoon. The transformation that takes place is truly amazing as the caterpillar’ body is dissolved and reorganized into a butterfly. I remember as a kid cutting open a cocoon to see the developing butterfly and finding a gooey mass of green slime instead.

The wonder of butterflies can inspire our imagination. Someone named Margy wrote the following on February 27, 1990. Somehow this short poem found its way to me. It is a butterfly point of view of metamorphosis if a butterfly could think like a human. It’s also a reminder of how God can reshape us into something new.

In the fall, I enjoy the fresh air and falling leaves for the last time,
for soon I prepare a cocoon for myself.
A cocoon that will keep me safe and warm against the harsh winter!
I withdraw into the cocoon when it’s time, withdrawing into the darkness, away from the cold stings of the world.
I sleep and sleep, losing all energy, lying dormant.
It’s cloudy and dark. I feel the emptiness, loneliness.
I wait and wait!
And, when it’s time, God’s gentle voice tells me, “Wake up, you’re free!”
Slowly, I eat away at the cocoon, feeling the warmth of the sunshine on my face.
I step out, realizing God has blessed me with wings!
I’m anxious, but I make my first attempts to fly.
The wind helps lift me up into the gentle breeze.
I flap my wings. I’m flying! I’m free!
Once again I feel confident, confident to face the world.

 

–John N. Clayton © 2017