A team of scientists at SRI international are creating real-life replicators from Star Gate SG1 — micro-robots capable of smart (and scary!) manufacturing. Thousands working in parallel will be able to achieve tasks previously unheard of, in a completely compact and integrated system.
These tiny ant-like robot systems are magnetically controlled and can use tools, move at incredible speeds, and swarm over surfaces. SRI’s vision was “to have an army of ants under your control”. It’s actually been an ongoing project since the 1990’s — but a recent undisclosed chunk of funding from DARPA has helped accelerate the project — giving it a new title of the MicroFactory for Macro Products project.
You have to see the video to believe it. Potential applications for these tiny swarm-bots include precise pick & place manufacturing, micro bio-technology, electronics manufacturing, and even rapid prototyping of high quality parts.
We get shivers just watching them slide around effortlessly on almost any surface.