The future of small robots
The Photovore is a `wild robot' - there is no switch to turn it off. I once parked the prototype in a dark corner, with a piece of cloth covering the solar panel. A day later it was caught in an attempt to very slowly wriggle free! But it is still a very primitive beast, not at all capable of looking after itself in a randomly chosen environment.
Is there a future in this, one may wonder. Will something like the Photovore ever lead to a useful kind of wild robot, or is it just a toy, a dead end as far as the development of robots is concerned? What will a real robot come to look like? Certainly not like Commander Data from Star Trek. There will always be cheaper ways to make something that so closely resembles a man.
Many chores we would gladly have a robot do - vacuuming the house, mowing the grass - demand something smaller, equipped with tools for the job. Even better would be a robot with more than one body: a collective organism. Then if you had a larger house or lawn, you wouldn't need another model, just more of the same robot. The advantage isn't just cheaper mass production. A collective organism never breaks down! The many little sub-robots divide the work between them, and automatically take over from one that stops. The robot as a whole continues, even if most of his `body' is defective. It will just mow or vacuum a bit slower. And repair is easy. You just buy a few more sub-robots. Small and simple really do have the future.