Eurekalert has an interesting headline today about robots developed at Vermont University that can self heal or adapt if they find something wrong with themselves. The news report highlighted the fact that this could herald a new generation of autonomous robots that can learn to adapt to the harsh environments that they would experience on Mars for example. I was more impressed by the solution that the researchers had developed. The robot maintains a ‘self image’ which it monitors. If it finds that something is wrong, it performs a set of diagnostics to ascertain what it is now capable of, and then devises a new mode of locomotion. The applications to planetary rovers are obvious, but you could imagine a generalized version of this mechanism at work in software, cars and other kinds of machines.
I’m intrigued to see how this research gets adapted in other fields.