Sunday, October 05, 2008

Immune System For Electronics?

The most undesirable facet of our complex technological society is not "if" something will fail but "when". As devices become more and more complex and we depend on the services that technology brings us, it's no wonder the amount of havoc that is created when parts of the system fail. Having the highly computerized watch on your wrist fail is an inconvenience, but have the same highly computerized system on a plane fail....

As a recent article in Science Daily stated: Electronic hardware designers have achieved fantastic levels of reliability so far but, as such devices become more and more complex, such instances can only become more common. Under fault conditions it would, therefore, be highly desirable for the system to be able to cope with faults, and continue to operate effectively even if one or more components have failed; but this is not the way electronic systems are currently designed.

Researchers at the University of the West of England are to carry out ground breaking research with collaborators from the University of York into creating electronic systems that can diagnose and heal their own faults in ways similar to the human immune system.

Drawing on inspiration from nature, the researchers at York and Bristol will look for ways to create electronic systems based on a structure of ‘cells’ which have the ability to work together to defend system integrity, diagnose faults, and heal themselves. The researchers will be looking at the way complex biological systems, such as the defense mechanism of the human body, are able to deal with faults and still keep functioning.

(The science fiction tie in? This is how I envision a true android. A cyborg is a mixture of man and machine, a robot is pure machine. But a self healing machine ? That starting to sound like a biological android.)

<- more -> from Science Daily online

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