Next Jobs Outsourced to Robots: Killing Snakes, Playing Basketball, Self-Replicating

By Patrick Morgan
Mar 4, 2011 3:21 AMNov 19, 2019 10:59 PM


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To make a dent in brown snake populations, feed them poison-stuffed mice; to devastate brown snake populations, create robots to do the job for you. That's what conservationists want to do in Guam to stop these pesky reptiles from further destroying the native bird population. The robots would have to stuff mice with 80 milligrams of acetaminophen (poisonous to snakes), glue the mice to cardboard strips, and then attach paper streamers to these monstrosities---all so that these modern day Trojan horses get lodged in the snake's forest canopy when they're lobbed out of airplanes (and hopefully wind up in a snake's tummy). But that's not all the the mischief that robots have been up to recently:

  • The U.S. Navy wants to start dabbling in robots too: Semi-autonomous micro-robot swarms that could themselves manufacture their own robots. Cute, huh? In a project proposal for scientists, the Navy says it's looking for a few good robots that can "pick and place, dispense liquids, print inks, remove material, join components" and "move cooperatively" to manufacture "novel materials and structures." Prepare now for the robot apocalypse! (No, it's not coming soon, but it won't hurt to be prepared.)

  • What could be better than a real basketball-playing seal? A robot seal with a giant claw protruding from its mouth that can sink baskets like a pro. Created by Taiwan's National Chiao-Tung University, this video will likely leave you slightly surprised, slightly disturbed, and highly amused: Related Content: Discoblog: How to Get Rid of Invasive Tree Snakes: Bomb Them With Parachuted, Poisonous Mice Science Not Fiction: Hungry Robots. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Science Not Fiction: Self-Assembling Robots. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Science Not Fiction: The Animal Superpower That Robots Would Love to Have: Great Efficiency

Image: Wikimedia Commons / USGS

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