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Future Technology - Zukunftstechnologie
Toekomstige Technologie

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Newswise Fabbers (machines that rapidly create useful items on demand from computer-generated design specifications) have been fantasy fodder for decades. And for good reason: a machine that could make a huge variety of reasonably complicated objects, and yet was attainable for ordinary people, would transform human society in a way that few other creations ever have. To understand why, consider the vision offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Neil Gershenfeld in his recent book Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop, From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication. Gershenfeld describes his ongoing project to equip ordinary folks with machines once used exclusively by industrial manufacturers to prototype new designs.

With these machines, people can, in effect, "download" such complex items as plastic bicycles, chemical sensors, and radios, and eventually robots, prosthetic limbs, and even human organs, in a way analogous to today's downloading of music and video files. Fabbers of seemingly unlimited capability also buttress lots of recent science-fiction plots; the "matter compiler" of Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age is a memorable example. In Alastair Reynolds' trilogy of space operas, interstellar spaceships rely on fabbers to produce everything from weapons to furniture.

While that kind of capability may be decades if not centuries away, researchers at several universities, including Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are already investigating technologies and materials that could lead to general-use, compact fabbers. At Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Laboratory, Hod Lipson's group has taken the first steps toward what they hope will be a signficant milestone: the creation of a fabricating system that can produce small, simple robots incorporating a battery, actuators, and sensors. The group's goal is to see these little automatons wriggle, completely finished, from the apparatus, their electronic and mechanical subsystems having been created in one seamless process. In the meantime, they recently succeeded in making a small fab produce a coin-shaped battery and an actuator suitable for the envisioned robot.


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Diese Meldung basiert auf einer Pressemitteilung -
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