For those who may not remember, MacGyver was a popular TV show in the 1980’s. The lead character, handsomely played by Richard Dean Anderson, took mundane things like chewing gum and paper clips and solve complex problems and escape dangerous situations by turning them into useful, lifesaving tools. All this was ostensibly based on theoretical physics.
Now the Navy is taking a page from that idea. It’s funding a group of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to hopefully create a “Macgyver robot”. With a three-year, $900,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research, researchers hope to create a robot that can go into a disaster area and use whatever it finds lying around as tools to complete its mission. The Macgyver bot will be designed to identify objects and, by using algorithms and a knowledge of basic mechanics, determine what their potential function is. It would then figure out how to use them to complete a task by turning the objects into tools or “simple machines.”
The Navy’s involved because it wants future robots to have human-like reasoning and the ability to works as teammates with service personnel. It’s an intriguing idea, but a great deal has yet to be worked out before this can become a reality. But, as Walt Disney said, if you can dream it, you can do it!