Sarah: Bridge8’s innovative Utility Fog workshop examines the implications of molecular manufacturing nanotechnologies by examining a mass of tiny foglets that can controlled to create and manipulate objects. The utility foglets provide a theoretical framework for exploring the impact of technology on society – they could possibily exist, but probably won’t. Well….that’s what we thought anyhow. Now a grounbreaking project at the University of York/University of the West of England is set to examine how swarms of miniature robots can work and evolve together. Sound familiar? The aim of the ‘Symbiotic Evolutionary Robot Organisms’ project, or ‘Symbrion’, is to examine how individual, repeated robotic components can come together to form an organism that functions as a whole. According to this model, mutiple sugar-cube-sized robots would act just like a multicellular lifeform, sharing information and energy as well as managing their own hardware and software. An artificial immune system is even planned for the Symbrion, and would act to monitor and correct faults and defects within the organism. Jon Timmis of the University of York said: “This is an increasingly important area of research. We may be able to use the collaborative power of many robots in situations where human intervention isn’t possible. For instance, a Symbrion swarm could be released into a collapsed building following an earthquake, and form themselves into teams to lift rubble or search for survivors”. Imagine that…..you come to consciousness after an earthquake and a large self-automated Symbrion is gliding over the rubble to rescue you. What would you say to it?…..”thank-you”?….maybe “what took you so long”?…how about…”you’re my hero”. Interesting dilemma.