So, I understand that a common way to explore the universe and colonise worlds is through Von Neumann Probes. Self-replicating and efficient... except for the fact that, as far as I have seen in multiple discussions, including here, making an actual Von Neumann Probe is as good as impossible due to the complexity involved in both the computing substrates and the materials.
However, I might have an idea, though there is one bit missing.
According to Wikipedia, these are the needed parts of a Von Neumann Probe:
- Probe: which would contain the actual probing instruments & goal-directed AI to guide the construct.
- Life-support systems: mechanisms to repair and maintain the construct.
- Factory: mechanisms to harvest resources & replicate itself.
- Memory banks: store programs for all its components & information gained by the probe.
- Engine: motor to move the probe.
For the Memory Banks, my world is one where Computronium already exists, small and efficient, in the form of Rydberg Atoms. It is already confirmed in the real world that Rydberg Atoms make a good form of Computronium.
Now, for the Factory, I imagine two parts: The same robotic arms used in that for Utility Fog for deconstructing and making, and also the microchip-sized electron particle accelerators to make more Rydberg Atoms. This happens as Rydberg Atoms are said to be made from electron impact excitation.
Lastly, for the motors, there are molecular-sized motors that can do this job to move the limbs of the probe.
I ditched the idea of them being self-propelled and interstellar, and prefer that they be restricted to only planets, being sent there via carriers.
This leaves behind three issues: The material the Von Neumann Probes should use to build another, the energy source to power it, and the basic commands.
Let us begin with the materials. It can be more than one, for versatility, but all must be common and be able to be used to make the given parts (except for the Computronium processor, we already settled that).
The problem for energy and commands will be in another post.