Washington, May 3 : A new scientific project aims to design teams of bio-inspired micro robots, that could one day monitor terrorists or search for victims at disaster sites. According to a report in Discovery News, the machines would be designed after robots depicted in the movie 'Minority Report'.
"Minority Report was probably one of the inspirations for this project," said William Devine of BAE Systems, the major partner in the project, known as the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance.
"We've been showing the movie to our researchers to inspire them," he added.
BAE and the other groups already have working micro robots and expect them to be ready for customized projects in 12 to 18 months.
The microrobots will range in size from a few inches in length to the size of a hand.
"They will have a range of a few city blocks, and will be carried either by a larger robot or a human close to their target before being deployed," said Devine.
The first micro robots will most likely only have one mode of transportation and one sensor, such as a spider-inspired walker equipped with a camera.
As the sensors and transportation methods use less power and require less space, the designers will pack more of both onto the robots.
"To do all this, scientists will work to reduce the size and energy consumption of existing sensors and transmitters by a factor of 10 to 100, while also looking at how animals perform the same tasks the microrobots will be designed for," said Devine.
"We're looking at how bees do their tasks, how certain animals hunt, at animals with interesting physical abilities, like a gecko," he added. Eventually, the scientists hope to develop one microrobot that can walk like a spider, climb like a gecko, fly like an insect, hover like a hummingbird and cooperate like bees, all while gathering still images, video, radar and other information that can be sent back to commanders in the field.
According to Kellar Autumn, a professor of biology at Lewis and Clark University, "This is realistic. They won't get something that climbs exactly like a gecko in a year, but they will get something that climbs close to a gecko."