What system do they use to distinguish robots from inanimate parts?
I previously asked how a robot would know what metals to build itself with in this question. That made me think about an other important question. Otherwise they might rip each other to shreds whenever they need materials to build... other robots. Or they might confuse a shop of spare parts with a graveyard. Well I could just circumvent this by having the robots networked so they know at all times which unit is where. But I want my machines to be autonomous and most importantly with a sense of self.
Robby sits in a pile of scrap metal. Is Robby made of scrap? Or is the scrap made of Robby? He beeps, for he does not know.
Robots in my setting come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one universal shape that defines machines as individuals or part of a group. They can freely switch parts to optimize themselves or replace every part of themselves with new ones. A robot might even change their function from factory overseer to farming bot if their consciousness program decided to do so. This incredible variety means that they need a system to distinguish what is a robot and what is a spare part or piece of scrap.
They could check their CPUs to make sure they are active. However when they are turned off (or resting) this does not work. Checking if there is a power signature of some kind could also be an option but again it could be turned off. What is your take on the issue?