Self Replicating Nanobots


At tonights meeting we discussed which route we are going to take for this competition; an exoskeletal structural system (an Octet Truss System) or self replicating nanobots. Taking from the idea of starting from the bottom-up we have decided to are look at designing a nanobot which can self replicate itself to make a structure. As of now we are focusing on Foglets and were coming up with ideas on how we could expand on this and design one that self replicates itself. Some of the questions we are trying to research is; how does a nanobot replicate a microprocessor? How exactly do you feed them information? How do you automate a quadrillion nanobots un unison? We are also interested in integrating NanoRAM and Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes into our Nanobots.

After our meeting tonight, I got sort of a rough idea of how a structure might be built and a system worked using nanobots. This is just a real rough outline of what I have been thinking about. This doesn’t attempt to solve any problems yet, just see how a system might be worked out based on some of the different topics we discussed. This is what I got out of what we might be able to accomplish using nanobots, how nanobots might self replicate by pulling carbon molecules out of the air, and the morphing with nanotubes as the bonds between the nanobots. The second paragraph is an idea of how a system could be set up—a what if scenario to get us thinking. Let me know if we’re on the same page or this is way out there.

One nanobot, made of a polycarbonate body, would have a single microprocessor implanted into the carbon shell which would send electrical pulses throughout the nanobot. These electrical pulses would in turn send signals to the twelve carbon nanotubes, which are used to grab onto the nanotubes of another bot and transfer information. The nanotubes are multi-walled polycarbonate nanotubes-which can grow, contract, and deflect using electrical impulses. The electrical impulses would send signal which would link, or bond, one nanotube to another by switching the atoms in the end of the nanotubes (see Geckovator). Linked together they would join the network of nanobots. The microprocessors implanted in the nanobot would also able to read outside data from the environment in which it is in. In order to self replicate the nanobots would have the ability to pull carbon molecules off of oxygen molecules and then once mixed with the catalyst inside of the bot become a new polycarbonate nanobot. This would allow them to harvest carbon to create the parts for new nanobots. Certain nanobots would create specific pieces of the nanobot so they would collectively build a new nanobot, much like a factory made up of nanobots. They work together to make the whole of a new nanobot–one makes a new microprocessor, the other makes a new nanotube, and another a nanotube, and so on until a new nanobot is assembled. This “factory” would be set up by making sure certain series’ of nanobots would linked to another, much like in DNA, only certain codes are mixed to one another. This happens in a matter of milliseconds. Once nanobots are linked together they are plugged into the network of nanobots running together. These bots run under the confinement of the principals defined by the user and the limits placed upon them by the software and the user. These limits could change the composition of the bond, and bots could become denser or pull away from each other to change the shape of the bond. This would then change the configuration of the molecule making it appear to us to be a different color – using different wave lengths in the visible light spectrum. They could appear to be green one minute, and blue the next. Walls could even appear to become completely opaque or even as a gas.

The inhabitant or user of this structure would purchase this at a market place. This could be given as a solid object made up of nanobots. The user receives a “box” of bots. This box is made up of trillions of polycarbonate nanobots, which make up a mass that looks like a solid box. This box is hooked up wirelessly to a computer where it receives its code, or instructions, from the program. The program then sends the user defined information to the box to be reprogrammed. The microprocessors receive their signals and start to process information. The box collectively calculates the weather conditions (sun, wind, temperature, precipitation, etc). The user places limits, desirable to their needs on the nanobots. The limits are areas, voids, which should be left out to complete the desired floor plan of the structure. The bots are calibrated around this design, and then it maximizes itself to work more efficiently with the environment—taking into account weather conditions and location. Areas, or voids, will be carved out within the exoskeleton which will carry water and air throughout the structure, much like a capillary system. Building codes and regulations are also put into this database of limits, which mandates some rules for the bots. These building codes and limits are set by architects and the government to; ensure the infrastructure of the city, from the nanobots running out of control, and general greed of the user. Each bot then finds its exact coordinates (GPS) of where it is at that place in time. Once all of the limits are placed on the bots and GPS is located, the box is then linked up to the network where its information is fed into the database and calculates the shape of the house based on the conditions. The nanobots map out all gps positions they will be traveling to make up the exoskeleton of the house. Each nanobot is self replicating, and while moving along its GPS defined path, self-replicaties more nanobots in its trail leaving other self-replicating bots. This is turn leads to new swarms of nanobots which are sent to their respective GPS height position signal to stop replicating, so that it leaves a solid, level, surface for a floor. Nanobots on the perimeter of the floor, which will eventually become the exoskeleton of structure, will not receive this signal, and follow on the path upwards to complete the walls.

So, if this structure was placed somewhere around the NorthWest Hemisphere,where it was winter, walls on the colder, or windier, side of the house would fill in thicker, while walls on the southern side would become thinner– appearing to be translucent. These nanobots would change color, attracting the rays of the sun, and harvest the sunlight from the southern exposure of the house using PV cells. This energy would then be put back directly into the structure. Certain areas of the structure may be left more porous than others to allow for air flow (composition of the nanobots, which are smaller than water molecules, would allow for air to breath while keeping rain water out) or even collect and distribute rain water. Once the nanobots are done self replicating and all nanobots have received their gps position telling them to stop self replicating, the structure is completed. The structure is then rechecked and updated for maximum efficiency, sustainability, and reconfigures to make minute adjustments. The design is then entered into an online database of all anonymous designs of other structures. Users are then able to see other designs which might be more efficient or desirable, which can then recalibrate their design and improve on it. Together collectively all of the structures built will maximize and share their information to get the most efficient and sustainable structure.


Categories: Nanotech, Research

Author:jonbailey

studying: architecture design

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15 Comments on “Self Replicating Nanobots”

  1. dylan
    July 24, 2007 at 8:33 pm #

    Hey Jon nice work on that research that is some serious shit you got goin there but I like it.

  2. jonbailey
    July 24, 2007 at 9:59 pm #

    This would be defined as a true self-reproducer–a complex autonomous system capable to self-reproduce in an environment of basic elements. Try to check out the Foresight Guidelines link I’ve posted on Blogroll.
    I’ve also got in touch with Geoff Coates at Cornell, who came up with the process of turning Co2 into polycarbonates, as well as Peter Yeadon.

  3. Jason
    July 25, 2007 at 1:03 pm #

    I have some reservations about moving headlong into nanobotology and these reservations seem to multiply as I continue to do research. I think it is possible to describe a molecular process that generates carbon-nanotubes that can then become our nanobot structure. The experimental data for that is available. The data is also there to describe actuating arms which are created from these nanotubes.
    The assembly process ,on the other hand, is very obscure. There are two proposed methods of nanobot construction, self-replication and convergent assembly. Drexler seems to be the pioneer theorist in the self-replicating area, but his work is purely theoretical and not at all practicable. Ralph C. Merkle describes the process of convergent assembly which to me sounds more reasonable than self-replication. The process that Jon has outlined above is similar to this approach wherein an assembly line is created for nanobot construction. Merkle’s process however was developed at the macro level and he proposes moving into the nano level with no alteration to the process, and the bottom line here is that scientists working at the nano scale are unable to predict what is going to happen at that level.
    Another problem with these bots is controlling them. If we can get past the assembly process we then have to describe how something like a nanochip is embedded into the bots and how that chip communicates information.
    If we pursue this road we will essentially be forced to take a leap of faith and suggest that something works when we really don’t know if it does or not. We will be suggesting that we can control our building at the atomic level and our research may not back up that claim.
    However, maybe this does not matter. Maybe a purely theoretical proposal is a good idea. I do not want to abandon a concept strictly because it is not currently feasible. Radical ideas are attractive, but can we not scale this thing up to some degree and still propose similar building behavior? Would it not be more interesting to propose something that could work? Maybe I am just discouraged due to my lack of knowledge in chemistry and molecular biology. What do you all think?

  4. jonbailey
    July 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    From most of the research Ive looked at and my understanding of how these nanobots would, or should, self-replicate would best be done in a “factory” or “Assembly line” technique–most things in nature work most the same way. A purely theoretical proposal maybe would not be too much of a bad idea, since some of this technology is coming along–especially if we can get some backup from nanotechnologists and chemists. Some of the ideas proposed in last years contest were purely theoretical, and in fact the winning multi-family building won just for its new way of thinking and solving a problem.
    If you want to go at a larger scale for this project, or tackle this a whole new way, then we could do that, however I think that this bottom-up approach is headed in the right direction, even though the technology might not necessarily be there yet, the idea always comes first. Also since Engines of Creation was written, some of the information/ideas has been disproven or proven to work. I do believe that we might be able to get enough information so that this is not just a pure leap of faith into the dark. I will say this is your [Jason] call to make, however I think that we could be able to describe and design a process for self-replication. Let me know.

  5. jonbailey
    July 25, 2007 at 1:23 pm #

    I would like to here back from Geoff Coates, about the self-replication processes, and Peter Yeadon, also before we abandon this concept totally.

  6. Jeff Headlee
    November 5, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    I think that the engineering community has not fully grasped the nature of a ‘self-replicating’ device. The simplest self-replicating device is a cell. It is inherently a biological system. Every structural and functional characteristic of a nanobot will have to be described by and an information storage system and have an interpreting mechanism (that also has to be described within the information system)contained within the nanobot. Does that sound anything like genetic cell biology 101? Self-replication is what defines life.

  7. November 5, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Self-replicating machines, thus far, are not truly self-replicating, they are only able to rebuild themselves from available components in the vacinity, and the scale of the units are much larger than the nano or molecular scale we are seeking. Yes, it is these biological processes that we are most interested–a building system modelled on how nature builds. There are few applications we [as s society] have done to date which understand and model these processes. Nanobots are another step in our mechanical/technical evolution, yet this trend may be an innacurate assumption of future technologies, since another force within our techonolical evolution will be the mastery of biological engineering–instead of creating the nanobot, we recreat the cell. Not only is self-replication an important process, but death is what defines life also, and may become a key factor in controlling these mechanisms from over running a proposed system.

  8. Erica
    March 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Can you explain to me the mechanism of carbon self replication. I saw a presentation on nanotech and I get the larger picture, but I want to know how, in basic terms, does carbon self replicate? I have been unsuccessful in answering this with a simple google search.

  9. March 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Well I don’t claim to know the exact mechanisms for carbon self replication, the process sought in this project was not carbon self replication but nanobot replication which were composed of carbon molecules. In this scenario Carbon molecules in the atmosphere are splits from Co2, using the carbon to build new components for new nanobots. The nanobots lattice configuration (attached through multi-walled carbon nanotubes) determines the composition of carbon-based material–which is shifting due to the data being input.

  10. Brian
    May 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Why use Microprocessor for nanobots? When you should use a Nanoprocessor.

  11. Brian
    May 31, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Why not try to get the material and molecule to do something with one volt. Like DNA binary, maybe polycarbonate body can house the Nanoprocessor that can tell the multi-walled polycarbonate nanotubes to build in a direction. So that one would be on and the other would be off, or something like that, so something would start to build like crystals.

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