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VWN Virtual Dictionary: Foglet
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Foglet

A foglet is a hypothetical micro-scale or nanoscale robot, as a defined by nanorobotics expert John Storrs Hall in 1993. Spherical or polygonal spheroid in shape, each foglet contains a tiny power supply, and a computing core, alone with multiple retractable arms emerging from as many directions as is practical. These arms being designed for a single purpose: to latch on to and maintain a hold with the arms of another foglet.

They're basically a type of intelligent construction cloud. Toss them up in the air from a bucket containing perhaps millions, and like any particle cloud they will drift down randomly as the planet's gravity takes hold. Tell them what you wish to make before you do this, and as they drift randomly they will latch onto one another, with both power and data shared through the connective arms. Their computational power growing exponentially as more and more foglets connect, they become capable of analysing the shape they themselves are forming, and determining when and where to extend more arms for more foglets to connect.

Likewise, to repair an existing foglet-made structure, you could just spray more foglets on from a spray gun or hose. The existing structure will only have arms extended for new foglets to join, where damaged foglets were discarded. The new spray will thus only stick where new foglets are required, and the programming of the foglets in the existing structure reprograms the new ones with what to do.

The result is a type of spray-on manufacturing where any structural damage is incredibly easy to fix, and intelligent structures in the most literal sense. A foglet swarm is typically referred to as a Utility Fog, and there is literally nothing save our current technical ability preventing foglets from coming to be. They are an order of magnitude above 3D printing in capability, and practically any conceivable structure could be made out of nanoscale foglets with shells made of the required materials.

See also: Particle Swarm, Swarm Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Swarm Intelligence, Ant Colony Optimisation, Ant Colony Optimisation Algorithms, Utility Fog, Foglet Swarm

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Related Dictionary Entries for Foglet:

Foglet

Foglet Swarm

Utility Fog



 

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