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System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of "l'economie de la débrouillardise." Or, sweetened for street use, "Systeme D." This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy. A number of well-known chefs have also appropriated the term to describe the skill and sheer joy necessary to improvise a gourmet meal using only the mismatched ingredients that happen to be at hand in a kitchen.
The control unit, valves and compressor pump that provide the means of locomotion are located in the robot's body, which can also be fitted with various measuring devices and sensors, depending on the job at hand.Instead of producing the robot using conventional mechanical-engineering technologies, the Fraunhofer team turned to a 3D printing process called selective laser sintering (SLS) that sees thin layers of a polyamide powder applied one at a time and melted into place using a laser. Not only does this process allow complex geometries and inner structures to be produced, but the resulting robot is also very lightweight and cheap to produce."We can use SLS to produce one or even several legs in a single operation; this minimizes assembly effort, saves materials and reduces the time it takes to build a robot. With the modular approach, individual parts can be quickly swapped as well. Our robot is so cheap to produce that it can be discarded after being used just once - like a disposable rubber glove," says Ralf Becker, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA).Although the spiderbot is still just a prototype, the researchers envision it could be used to explore environments that are hazardous or too difficult to access for humans, such as natural disaster areas and industrial or reactor accident sites. It could also be used to assist first responders and fire departments by broadcasting live images or tracking down hazards or leaking gas.
Can they make the bots look a little less like face huggers?
I for one salute our new plastic overlords.