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I really want to believe they can make one, I am very doubtful though. They scored $3 million, wow, you have to give them that! A real shape-shifting robot is many moons away - don't hold your breath.
What an engineering feat it will be! I could imagine trying to use such a robot that unconstitutes and reconstitutes via tiny electronics and tiny batteries. Imagine how hard it would be to not be picking up contaminates like sand, dust, oil, pets, bacteria or carpet. The robot could literally come alive with organisms or get bogged down and stuck in the simplest of materials! It can't be totally gooey like a jellyfish, it'll probably have a skeleton so how do you attach the goo to the skeleton? What about when it gets hot or cold or wet or dry or comes near magnetic fields or the barametric pressure changes. It seems like quite a chemist/physics/electronics/etc design challenge.
If they can get the first one made and working for $3 mill or less it will really be a bargain!
The best shape-shifter in the world won't be any good without an artificial intelligence for a brain.
DARPA should try something new, give $200k to each of 5 the most well-organized hobby robot groups around the nation, along with a goal of some sort, and see what they come up with. It would be a TINY investment and I bet they would be surprised at the ROI.
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