Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Bacon Time, Pirate’s Cove, Whores and Ale, Flappr and The Daley Gator for the Rule Five links!

Robots are cool.  Doesn’t everyone think so?  I’d love to have a robot around, one tough enough to help with keeping up our rural homestead but dexterous enough to help Mrs. Animal with the cooking and to tend to household chores.  But such a robot wouldn’t have to be humaniform, even if that’s how they always appear in various sci-fi stories; there are a lot of other layouts that might be more efficient.  Say, one with tentacles.

After producing several promising jellyfish robot designs using AI image generators, I reviewed them with my team to determine if any aspects could inform the development of real prototypes. We discussed which aesthetic and functional elements might translate well into physical models. For example, the curved, umbrella-shaped tops in many images could inspire material selection for the robot’s protective outer casing. The flowing tentacles could provide design cues for implementing the flexible manipulators that would interact with the marine environment. Seeing the different materials and compositions in the AI-generated images and the abstract, artistic style encouraged us toward more whimsical and creative thinking about the robot’s overall form and locomotion.

Image from story

While we ultimately decided not to copy any of the designs directly, the organic shapes in the AI art sparked useful ideation and further research and exploration. That’s an important outcome because as any engineering designer knows, it’s tempting to start to implement things before you’ve done enough exploration.

Robots will probably become a greater part of our lives over the next hundred years or so (barring any total collapse of civilization, the odds of which I personally rate as, well, greater than zero.)  In the early Seventies, nobody had ever heard of microwave ovens; in the Eighties, nobody seemed to be able to get along without them.  Forty years ago nobody had a smart-phone. Now they are ubiquitous.  It will be the same thing here; a hundred years from now, it may be inconceivable for a modern household to now have robotic help in one form or another.

The Jetsons’ Rosie may become a real thing.