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Home > News & Events > Events & Lectures > Foresight Conferences > The 1st Adv. Nanotech. Conf. > Abstracts

Self-Replicating NanoMachines: A Kinematic Cellular Automata Approach

Tihamer Toth-Fejel*

General Dynamics
Ann Arbor MI 48105 USA

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
1st Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology:
Research, Applications, and Policy

Slide presentation as 1 MB PDF
Audio as 3.2 MB MP3


This study describes recent research completed for the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts in self-replicating machines, concentrating on an approach using Kinematic Cellular Automata (KCA) configured as a small-envelope Universal Constructor. This system is compared with other approaches. Applications such as space exploration and terraforming will be discussed, as well as potentially drastic reductions in fabrication costs for electronics and other products. In addition, guidelines for the safe and responsible use of this technology are addressed.

Because NIAC funded Phase I of this project, we now have:

  • Fairly close bounds on the complexity of useful machine self-replication (less than a Pentium IV).
  • A calculation of improvements in the cost and complexity for nanoscale KCA SRS (seven magnitudes).
  • A reasonable hierarchy for a practical SRS.
  • A clear and workable preliminary design that could be applied at macro, micro, and nano scales.
  • An isomorphism of proven computer architecture to self-replication.
  • An understanding of the relationship between usefulness and self-replication in terms of Universal Construction and dynamic modularity.

The design of one KCA Self-Replicating System (SRS) is dicussed in particular, with a hierarchical specification of structure, functionality, and control mechanisms. Simulation results of different aspects of the KCA SRS are presented, some of which could be extended to model an entire self-replicating system. The essential problem of machine self-replication is described: a KCA SRS could - in a well-defined environment - assemble basic inert parts into symmetrical facets of modular dynamic cells that are configured into Assembler, Transporter, and Controller subsystems.

*Corresponding Address:
Tihamer Toth-Fejel
General Dynamics
205 Brookside, Ann Arbor MI 48105 USA
Phone: 734 997-9695 Fax: 734 662-3384

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