2128: New Robot

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 16:55, 25 March 2019 by PvOberstein (talk | contribs) (Explanation: first appearing in the 1991 game ''{{w|The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past}}''.)
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New Robot
"Some worry that we'll soon have a surplus of search and rescue robots, compared to the number of actual people in situations requiring search and rescue. That's where our other robot project comes in..."
Title text: "Some worry that we'll soon have a surplus of search and rescue robots, compared to the number of actual people in situations requiring search and rescue. That's where our other robot project comes in..."


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The comic describes how many robots and engineering products which have no actual purpose will eventually be labeled “Search and Rescue” robots.

The Hookshot is a type of grappling hook that is a recurring piece of equipment in The Legend of Zelda video game franchise, first appearing in the 1991 game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It is a machine consisting of a chain and hook, which can be used by Link, the protagonist and player character of Zelda. When used, the chain extends and sends the hook attached to it towards its target. If the hook latches onto certain objects, Link is projected towards that object. Link can also use it to pull enemies and objects towards him.

The title text ominously suggests that since there are more rescue robots than required for the number of people needing rescue, another robot project will be used to create people in need of rescue, or destroy search-and-rescue robots.


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Boston Dynamics does this. “That Guy from the Netherlands” (talk) 16:23, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

I have to wonder if the title text is referring to the term "search and destroy", which would certainly be the second type. MAP (talk) 18:47, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M46HvyAG2k i'ts a robot! I prefer qwerty (talk) 21:29, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

Anyone else reminded of the Rovers from The Prisoner? 21:54, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

It seems like, from both the references(E.G. Hookshot) to various things and the captions, that this bot was built with the purpose of being cool rather than any sort of destructive nature. V (talk) 03:13, 26 March 2019 (UTC)

I don't think if a charged thing that uses a grappling hook in order to move is too cool as it would most probably discharge its static electricity as soon as it tries to shoot the hook at anything. As a 2nd thought I perhaps would think about if it is fit to be used as a weapon rather than as a rescue thingy, see 2072:_Evaluating_Tech_Things Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 15:56, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
It doesn’t use static electricity, it uses a charged helium sphere. A.K.A. It isn’t in the hookshot. Even so, it doesn’t matter if it zaps everything at once because that’s also pretty cool. “That Guy from the Netherlands” (talk) 16:10, 28 March 2019 (UTC)

I thought I recognized that stage. 04:00, 26 March 2019 (UTC)

The (current) explanation completley misses the point of the one big advantage robots have for search and rescue missions. especially the search part: They often can access areas humans cannot for reasons such as temperature, space restrictions, safety, height/depth, radiation, etc. So especially for the search part it can be muc hbetter to send in a drone instead of a person. --Lupo (talk) 07:30, 26 March 2019 (UTC)

A drone is "much better" right up until you need to exert a force on something (clear some debris, open a door, drag the unconcious survivor out along the passage you've cleared...). At this point you need a wheeled, snake-like or multi-legged robot which can reasonably support and anchor itself, a situation where having lots of mass (prohibitve for drones) and hence plenty of momentum and/or inertia becomes an advantage. 22:35, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
That is why there is the need to have many differently specialised robots/drones, and constantly developing new ones which can take special tasks as part of "search and rescue". --Lupo (talk) 08:16, 28 March 2019 (UTC)

I'm on mobile and it is too awkward to fix up the current explanation, but it is completely off the mark. The sphere is not a fragile balloon, this is why he didn't say balloon. Engineers come up with robots because they are fun and impressive challenges to make, and it's really cool to make something that has never been made before, especially if it solves a hard problem or it replicates popular fictional media, but others don't understand this and wonder what all the effort is expended for. Floating objects accumulate atmospheric charge relative to ground - this can be used as a weak power source and is the source of lightning. 11:52, 26 March 2019 (UTC)

In complete agreement with ^^ about the fragile balloon. I'd say something more along the lines of "Impractical for the 'rescue' bit", but a sphere isn't necessarily fragile. Glassvein (talk) 02:52, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

It also states that the helium is a sphere -- "floats using a helium sphere" -- not that the helium is contained in a sphere. Seems there might be some considerable engineering challenges there, either to keep gaseous helium "attached" to the robot and to keep it from dissipating or to make and maintain a non-gaseous sphere of helium. Kinda difficult to have solid helium hanging around, for instance...

And how does the device charge itself electrically if it has no connection to the ground?Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 16:02, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
A battery? “That Guy from the Netherlands” (talk) 16:10, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
That's not how that works. In order to run a current from the ground to the balloon, the balloon would have to have a significant net positive or negative charge. You can't achieve that with a battery, which is capable of applying a voltage to a circuit and moving charge, but is not itself charged. 19:44, 14 February 2020 (UTC)
Just like a helium balloon is not a balloon made out of helium, but a balloon filled with helium, a helium sphere is not a sphere made out of helium, but a sphere filled with helium. --Pbb (talk) 07:24, 2 April 2019 (UTC)