- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

Large-scale projects like aircraft and ship production will one day be the job of self-aware spider robots working in tandem with 3-D printing technology.

Global digital powerhouse Siemens took an idea by its U.S. engineers in 2014 and ran with it to produce nascent spider robots that work together in groups. The company anticipates that its research will cascade into countless commercial ideas.

Livio Dalloro, head of Research Group at Siemens Corporate Technology, recently discussed the project with Discover magazine.

“What we really aim at is not the specific application this could be turning into, but all the cluster of technologies that could spin out of this and could lead to potential results down the line for the company,” Mr. Dalloro said. “It’s not the robot in itself, but for us it’s a killer research application.”

Siemens said its existing spider robots each have a “sidekick” with spools of 3D printing material. They crawl around using lasers and cameras to study the environment for the most ideal position before carrying out a mission.

Engineers are working on ways to have packs of six robots working together at one time.

“It’s about connectivity and self-awareness,” Kurt Bettenhausen, senior vice president at Siemens Corporate Technology, told Discover. “Can these robots really be self aware in terms of where they are and what they can do based on their own resources?”

The company then clarified that robots would not have the “self awareness” of evil robots from a “Terminator” movie. Mr. Dalloro said a good example might include a robot that needs its batteries recharged then letting others know it will be temporarily indisposed.

The website said improvements in technology would pave the way for robots that could help in homes or perform tasks on a factory floor.

Siemens employs roughly 350,000 people in more than 200 countries. Its revenue for fiscal year 2015 generated $84.58 billion.

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