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Gelbot

An omnibot; a mobile mass of smart matter (often gel-like) capable of extruding various tools

Gelbots3
Image from Steve Bowers
Two vaguely humanoid gelbots accompanied by two somewhat more shapeless ones

Also known as an omnibot, Jack-of-all and "poor modo's bushbot" a gelbot is a class of generalist domestic and industrial robots. Often described as the autonomous big-sibling to the omnitool a standard gelbot consists of hundreds to thousands of tool components embedded in a mass of smart matter.

The tool components, as in the omnitool, are tightly packed pellets that can be unpacked and integrated into the smart matter to form a fully operational equipment. The smart matter is not homogenous, instead it is a blend of different types that allow a wide range of capabilities as well as operation in a range of environments. At the most fundamental smart matter acts as the body of the bot, whilst most models come with a default body plan gelbots change their shape to whatever configuration is the most efficient for the task at hand. This includes fully/partially enveloping the object to be worked upon for maximum tool coverage. Smart matter also provides movement through flowing, legs, wheels, tracks, fancloth and simple rockets (more advanced methods of travel will require tools to be unpacked and integrated). Transapient-designed versions are far more versatile in their capability, able to rebuild material from the environment into new tools extremely rapidly (see bushbot). In addition they make use of quantum levitation technology to change shape extremely rapidly with very little waste heat.

Unlike most other bots gelbots have the useful characteristic of not being discrete units. Aside from coming in a range of sizes (from milli- to teralitres) gelbots can split into multiple gelbots, each with an appropriate amount of smart matter and tool complement in order to fulfill their job. The process is easily reversible with two gelbots capable of merging together. This capability often leads to users to describe gelbots in terms of how much they have as opposed to how many.

Whilst highly capable as generalists gelbots will tend to underperform in tasks compared to equivalently massed specialised machines. They make up for this in versatility, in being able to quickly perform different tasks one after the other though in cases where the timing is acceptable specialists with FITs can modify themselves for the same effect (suitably FITed gelbots can also become neumann-capable, i.e. capable of self-replication). The decision as to when to use a gelbot and when to use a specialist is one highly contingent on the task at hand, but in almost all cases both will be able to complete the task eventually.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Ryan B
from an original idea by Todd Drashner
Initially published on 12 May 2015.

 
 
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