Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

Sony Pictures Classics Weta-Tv (1999)
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Abstract

Complex systems and complex missions take years of planning and force launches to become incredibly expensive. The longer the planning and the more expensive the mission, the more catastrophic if it fails. The solution has always been to plan better, add redundancy, test thoroughly and use high quality components. Based on our experience in building ground based mobile robots (legged and wheeled) we argue here for cheap, fast missions using large numbers of mass produced simple autonomous robots that are small b y today's standards (1 to 2 Kg). We argue that the time between mission conception and implementation can be radically reduced, that launch mass can be slashed, that totally autonomous robots can be more reliable than ground controlled robots, and that large numbers of robots can change the tradeoff between reliability of individual components and overall mission success. Lastly, we suggest that within a few years it will be possible at modest cost to invade a planet with millions of tiny robots.

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