As a follow-on from this conversation, I found an interesting experiment at Brandeis University... The project uses automatic design and manufacture to produce evolving robots. Really cool stuff! You can even participate in the project with an interactive screensaver (sort of like SETI@home, but with self-evolving robots).
Another little interesting project comes from NASA - the Snakebot. Sony's little pet robo-dog AIBO ERS-210 eat your batteries out!
> No job is too unusual for a breed of robots that reinvent themselves
> The scientists have developed what they call a polymorphic robot-a machine
> that can change its shape to suit the job in hand. Shape-shifting robots
> could be used as planetary explorers, or for search-and-rescue missions,
> changing their shape to meet each new challenge and adapting to strange
> and unpredictable environments.
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