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这个由冰组成的机器人被设计用来探索寒冷的行星

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2021年01月11日

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This Robot Made Of Ice Is Designed To Explore Frosty Planets

这个由冰组成的机器人被设计用来探索寒冷的行星

With a re-invigorated space race in the pursuit of a Mars landing – amongst many other upcoming exciting ventures – there have also been some pretty wacky but interesting ideas on how to expand space exploration recently. Last month, Japanese engineers suggested designs for a wooden satellite to combat space junk, and in 2021 could see a remote-controlled car race on the Moon, just because scientists can.

在追求火星登陆的太空竞赛中——在许多即将到来的激动人心的冒险中——最近也有一些关于如何扩大太空探索的相当古怪但有趣的想法。上个月,日本工程师提出了一种木制卫星的设计方案,以对抗太空垃圾。到2021年,我们可以在月球上看到遥控汽车比赛,因为科学家可以做到。

Jack Dunhill

The latest fascinating innovation comes from people at the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, who want to ditch clunky metal robots exploring other planets and replace them with ice. That’s right, they believe that using ice to build robots would allow for easy and cheap construction, and could even self-repair with the abundance of ice on some planetary bodies.

宾夕法尼亚大学GRASP实验室的研究人员提出了一项最新的创新,他们希望用冰取代笨重的金属机器人来探索其他星球。没错,他们相信用冰来建造机器人将使建造变得简单和廉价,甚至可以利用一些行星上丰富的冰进行自我修复。

In their study, presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Devin Carroll and Mark Yim showed a proof-of-concept robot that can be driven around whilst being predominantly made of ice. The IceBot demonstrated that not only can an ice-based robot function, it can survive without melting at room temperature for a while – the authors state that the applications of the IceBot will be in environments cold enough that this wouldn’t pose a problem anyway.

德文·卡罗尔和马克·尹在IEEE/RSJ智能机器人与系统国际会议(IROS)上发表了他们的研究成果,他们展示了一种概念验证型机器人,这种机器人可以在主要由冰构成的情况下驾驶。“冰机器人”证明了一个以冰为基础的机器人不仅可以工作,还可以在室温下存活一段时间而不融化——作者指出,应用冰机器人的环境将是足够冷的,这不会造成任何问题。

“One of the challenges to making robots for this field is not only robots are expensive but the natural elements will break them given time,” Carroll said in an interview to IEEE Spectrum.

卡罗尔在接受IEEE Spectrum采访时表示:“在这个领域制造机器人的挑战之一不仅是机器人价格昂贵,而且随着时间的推移,自然因素会破坏它们。”

“Mark and I started exploring the idea of building robots from found material as a way to add robustness to robotic systems operating in remote or hostile environments with a secondary goal of reducing the cost of the system.”

“马克和我开始探索用现有材料建造机器人的想法,作为一种增加机器人系统在远程或恶劣环境中运行的鲁棒性的方法,附带的目标是降低系统的成本。”

The current problem with planetary rovers and robots is the intense reliability they require; should they have a malfunction or hit rough terrain and break a wheel, in most cases that’s game over for that robot. Sending an entire space mission to fix a solitary rover is not going to be viable any time soon and planets like Mars rarely stock spare wheels for a quick pit-stop.

行星探测车和机器人目前的问题是它们要求极高的可靠性;如果它们出现故障,或者撞到崎岖的地形,弄坏轮子,在大多数情况下,机器人就玩完了。发射一项完整的太空任务来修理一个单独的漫游者在短期内是不可行的,像火星这样的行星很少有备用的轮子来快速停车。

So instead, the researchers turned to one of the last materials anyone would expect robotics to be built out of – ice. Obviously, the circuitry can’t be made out of ice, but the chassis and wheels certainly could. If it were possible to create effective robots out of ice, said robot would have an abundance of spare parts literally across many planets’ floor. Even better, ice does not need glue or laser cutters to sculpt it into shapes and structures, so the robot could likely repair any breaks and even create its own parts in the future. In the meantime, crafting robots out of ice would be much cheaper than the composites used currently and could be used to create disposable bots.

因此,研究人员转而求助于人们最不希望用的材料之一——冰。显然,电路不能用冰做,但底盘和车轮当然可以。如果有可能用冰来制造有效的机器人,那么机器人就会在很多行星的底部拥有大量的备件。更棒的是,冰不需要胶水或激光切割机来塑造形状和结构,所以机器人将来可能修复任何破损,甚至创造自己的部件。与此同时,用冰制造机器人要比目前使用的复合材料便宜得多,而且可以用来制造一次性机器人。

The IceBot is a very early iteration and exists purely as a proof-of-concept, so electronic ice overlords won’t be taking over just yet, but it is certainly an interesting concept. The researchers also state that whilst ice solves some problems, new problems arise, such as transportation of the robot would need to be cold enough to maintain its structure.

IceBot是一个非常早期的迭代,它纯粹是作为一个概念验证而存在的,所以电子冰霸主目前还不会占据主导地位,但这肯定是一个有趣的概念。研究人员还指出,虽然冰解决了一些问题,但新的问题出现了,比如运输机器人需要足够冷来维持其结构。


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