Spiderbots with hive mind that can build a city on the moon
New York,Nov26: Who wants to work in 250-degree heat or scuttle into the center of a nuclear disaster to measure radiation levels?
They are robots from Siemens built like spiders, with a hive mind and 3D printers, so when they land on the Moon they can, you know, build a city there, splitting up the jobs by talking to each other. (Fire your contractor, get that kitchen teardown done.) Or deploy across a nuclear blizzard and report back on the gamma rays.
The company wanted its Siemens Spiders – SiSpis for short – to be able to crawl over structures as they build them. “Does it need to have legs? Does it need to have arms?” Technology Engineer Sinan Bank recalls asking himself. What should it look like?
This isn’t happening tomorrow. “We wanted to create a little proof of concept,” says Livio Dalloro, who heads the Product Design, Modeling and Simulation Research group.
Then his kinetic eyebrows arch, as if in surprise at his own ambitions for the spider swarm. “Imagine a robot like this, instead of being that small and working with plastic, imagine that, like, five, ten times bigger, maybe, and being able to manufacture with concrete,” he says.
Colleagues at Siemens did imagine it, and some of them wondered if it might scare the living daylights out of people. (Could they have been thinking of the lethal swarm of bee drones in that episode of Black Mirror that left you cringing behind your dog? Nah.)
“I got feedback like: Oh. Killer spiders,” Bank recalls. “Then I start to think, how can I make it a little bit softer, a little bit gentle, make it a little bit funny, maybe? Then I added components like eyeglasses and put the laser scanner like a hat.”
So don’t worry. They’re cute. They have little hats.
“These robots are not here to replace the humans,” Dalloro stipulates. “The ultimate goal is always the same: to make our life better.”