Robots working with Robots

// Posted by on 03/02/2012 (1:16 PM)

I started watching Vijay Kumar’s TED Talk presentation about tiny robots that can fly because I thought it sounded futuristic and really interesting. I didn’t think they would be advanced enough to do more than the toy helicopter I bought my father for Christmas last year, but I was willing to hear him out. The science behind the tiny flying robots was too much for me to comprehend, but Kumar discussed how the robots could be used in real world situations. It reminds me of the documentary Why We Fight because it seems like an idea that is really worth pursuing for both the military and government. The flying robots are small enough to explore spaces that humans would not be able to fit in. Kumar gave examples of a robot acting as a first responder, identifying potential threats in a building, damage, and biochemical leaks. I was reminded of Why We Fight because our military is constantly working on ways to obtain information and carry out military commands without putting our own soldiers in danger. By utilizing these flying robots, the US government could save money on the equipment that soldiers need to explore buildings, search for people, and identify possible dangers. Most importantly, the robots could save lives by lessening the danger of exploring the unknown in a foreign country.


Vijay Kumar holding a robot

The robots become even more valuable when they work together because they are able to cooperate with each other to carry out goals. The technology was modeled after ants that were able to carry an object by sensing both each other and the object without formally communicating. In the talk, Kumar shows videos of the robots carrying larger objects together, flying in formation, and even building a simple structure by programming the robots with only the blueprint of the finished product. Though the robots would be expensive and require a lot of time and attention to properly train, I believe they would be well worth it. Kumar concluded his TED Talk with a music video of the robots playing instruments and working together to perform a song. Though his presentation ended on a lighter note, I think he opened his audiences eyes to the possibilities of this technology and how valuable it could be in the future.

Robots flying together


I think in 10 or 15 years, this kind of technology could replace some of our soldiers, save money on military expenses, and become a safer and more effective way of carrying out missions in other countries. What do you think our government would think about replacing soldiers with these robots? After hearing President Eisenhower’s speech in Why We Fight, do you think he would have the same ideas about these robots as our government today?

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Ali S said...

I think it would be a innovative and interesting idea for Robots to replace soldiers, but i don’t think its plausible. Over a million people are employed with the armed forces, what happens to them when robots take over. It might be safer in some ways but the more intelligent a robot the more stupid the user, you can only make a robot so smart until they are smarter then us. Then what? We have Terminator. That’s obviously an extreme situation but it can happen.

// 03/13/2012 at 10:30 pm

Kelsey said...

My dad was a marine and a police officer in LA and is now a security guard so based on what he’s told me about the ways things are done when it comes to collecting intelligence and assessing threat levels from school shootings to war zones I don’t think the robots would do much more then provide that information faster. Granted, a faster assessment of a scenarios like that would be practically guaranteed to save lives but the tactics for entering a battle or a classroom are based on training and instinct. You can train a robot to do basically anything these days but instinct is not something you can teach, morals/ethics are not something to be programmed. There are thousands of variables that influence a soldier’s decisions and instead of programming a robot, something that would require years of testing and fine tuning to only reenact that decision making process, we should leave situations like that to be dealt with by human beings.

// 03/13/2012 at 11:37 pm