Metaphors and Robots

When people first started trying to explain the human brain, they chose clockworks as the most similar systems. Clocks were, at that point, the most complicated system available to use as a metaphor. Once computers were developed, we were able to switch over and describe the human brain as being like a computer.

New robotics research is beginning to make a similar switch. Instead of thinking of motion control as being like muscles — the system we’re most familiar with, being mammals — researchers are thinking in terms of more alien systems like those used by arthropods and crustaceans.

These little creatures get way more action than they ever could with muscles that could fit into their tiny bodies. They use mechanisms like a catapult or a bow and arrow or a spring. Pick your metaphor.

Greater understanding of these animals is one of the side effects of robot research. Replicating the movements of mollusks and spiders provides insight into the way these creatures move. It could also give new options for robot movement.

Copying mammals isn’t the best choice for every evolutionary niche in the industrial robotics area. Or for any of the other possible present and future applications of robots. That’s one reason researchers are looking at octopi and other creatures.

The results aren’t obvious advantages. A robot that jumps like a flea won’t fold boxes better than the robots that currently fold boxes. But exploring new and different ideas is often the fastest path to a new idea that can make a difference.

Somewhere. Eventually.

Right now, many of the plans for future robotics innovation are at the fantasy level.

That’s one reason that it makes sense to keep your legacy components running well. When you choose factory repair or reman for your Rexroth legacy units, you end up with components that are just as good as new. Sometimes even better. In most cases, you have a new warranty, and years more service without an unnecessary upgrade.

When the new robots move from the fantasy realm into something ready for the marketplace, you can make an upgrade that will really make a difference. Instead of an upgrade you’ll regret.

Give us a call to discuss your Rexroth motion control needs. We’ll keep your machinery working well while you look toward the future.

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