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Intel: the future of robots revealed

Robots could roam the streets as soon as 2050

A world where robots and human live side-by-side is just pure science fiction, right? Not according to Intel's chief technology officer Justin Rattner. We find out just how close we are to having robots roam the earth.

Jason Campbell, a senior researcher at Intel, said the development and use of catoms will change the way people interact with computers and other devices in significant ways.

"Think of a mobile device," Campbell said. "My mobile phone is too big to fit comfortably in my pocket and too small for my fingers. It's worse if I try to watch movies or do my email. But if I had 200 to 300 milliliters of catoms, I could have it take on the shape of the device that I need at that moment."

For example, the catoms could be manipulated to create a larger keypad for text messaging. And when the device wasn't being used, Campbell said, he could command it "to form its smallest shape or even be a little squishy, so I can just drop it in my pocket".

Campbell envisions that each catom would have a computer processor and some form of memory. Four years ago, he thought it would take 30 to 50 years for this kind of technology to be realised. Now, though, he estimates that the time it will take is much closer to 10 years.

Both Campbell and Rattner said the biggest obstacle will be figuring out how to make the micro-bots think like a swarm. Instead of sending individual directions to each catom, one set of instructions will have to be sent to make the catoms work together, so each one takes the correct position to create the desired 3D shape. But both were optimistic that it will happen, eventually.

"Sometime over the next 40 years, this will become everyday technology," Rattner said in an interview before his speech. And could catoms actually take human form? "Sure," he said. "Why not? It's an interesting thing to speculate on."


NEXT PAGE: Wireless power

  1. Intel says we could see robots as soon as 2050
  2. Changing the way people interact with PCs
  3. Wireless power

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