Thursday, June 21, 2007

Robots Get Voice in US Congress

In a demonstration of their growing influence, robots are gaining a
political foothold to help them shape the policies of the US government.

Congressman Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania's 14 district and ZachWamp a Republican from Tennessee's 3rd, announced the formation of a bi-partisan Congressional Caucus for robots.
Congressman Doyle explains that robots are "being used to defend our nation, perform surgery, fill prescriptions, deliver supplies and materials, and even as tools to educate our children..."
" is important that we create a forum by which Congress can familiarize itself with the impact this first great technology of the 21st century is likely to have on the lives of all Americans."

Their press release states the proposed public reasons for the creation of the group:
The preliminary, proposed goals of the bipartisan Robotics Caucus will include, but are not limited to:

-- Increasing general awareness of robotics industry challenges and issues among Members of Congress and policy analysts in the federal government;
-- Educating Members of Congress and congressional staff on current and future research, development, and utilization initiatives involving robotics;
-- Serving as a forum where robotics-related policy issues can be discussed and debated; and
-- Ensuring that our nation remains globally competitive as the robotics industry rapidly expands and begins to exert a profound effect on the way our citizens live their lives.

Obviously the goals will also include strong-arming representatives to pass legislation favorable to robots and promoting the robot agenda.

Generally the political types lag the real world on new issues so this move also shows that robot are truly becoming an important and growing part of our civilization.

Doyle andWamp Launch Congressional Caucus on Robotics - Yahoo! News

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tactile Sensor

Shadow Robot Company, maker of the 24 Degree-of-freedom dexterous hand, is now making tactile sensors for the hand.

According to Shadow's web site, "the sensor uses Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) as the sensing medium."
Each sensor has either has either 34 or 22 active tactile elements, tactels, making it nearly as sensitive as human skin. The sensors come in two shapes for either a finger tip or a thumb but they can be custom made to any shape.

The sensors were developed for a DARPA funded project at Johns Hopkins University for new prosthetics.

Shadow Robot Company: The Tactile Sensor Overview

Shadow Air Muscles
Robot Hand Available

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Robot Radio Relays

Communications between troops in an urban area can be a problem due to interference and line of sight blocked by buildings.
Can you hear me now?
DARPA is looking to robots for a solution to the dropped call problem.
They are looking for proposals for mobile robots that act as radio relays around a city. The robots, called LANdroids, would be dropped by soldiers around the city to create a network of communications nodes. The robots should be smart enough to know how to stay online under changing conditions - for example if some of them get destroyed. The robots would position themselves so they can always hear someone else in the network.

DARPA would like the disposable robots to be about the size of a deck of cards, cost under US $100 each and stay online up to 14 days.

There will be an information day on July 6 for potential bidders.

DARPA Information Processing Technology Office

PDF LANdroid Proposal Information

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Hummingbird Unmanned Helicopter

Boeing announced that they have successfully completed first flight tests on its unmanned helicopter the A160T Hummingbird.
The A160T is the turbine-engine version of the A160 unmanned helicopter under development by Boeing since they purchased Frontier Systems in 2004.

The Hummingbird is an advanced design helicopter with performance advantages over a traditional manned craft. It can fly up to 2500 miles and stay aloft for 24 hours with a 300 pound payload. It is expected to be able to fly at up to 140 knots forward speed at altitudes up to 30,000 feet.
It has variable speed rotors so that it can hover longer, fly quieter and use fuel more efficiently than a regular chopper.
The Hummingbird is 35 feet long with 36 feet diameter rotors.

Boeing: Boeing Completes First Flight of A160T Hummingbird Unmanned Helicopter

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Biggest Robot In The Factory

Kuka Robotics has announced the largest factory robot ever.

The KR 1000 'Titan' is a 6-axis worker with a 1000kg (2200 pound) capacity and 3200 mm (10+ feet) reach.
The Titan is designed for heavy-duty work in automotive, building materials industries and foundries. The super-strength robot can be used in some applications that have needed lifts with overhead cranes.
The big guy has 9 motors and Kuka says it can "deliver the power of a mid-sized car."
Two of the axis use two motors each to power a single gear.

The robot will be availble before then end of the year and can be shipped in a standard container.

KUKA introduces KR 1000, world’s strongest robot

“titan”: the world’s strongest robot

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Thermal Imaging Robot Finds Termites

The Australian company Termicam is testing a remote controlled robot that can crawl through nooks and crannies to track down sneaky termites munching on your house.

The Termibot uses video and thermal imaging to find the pests. Once found the robot probes the termite nest to break it open and expose the bugs. It then squirts poison directly into the nest to kill the buggers.

The prototype is connected to the human operator with an umbilical wire but future versions will be wireless.

The robot offers many advantages over traditional methods of termite control. First, the robot can go into small paces where an exterminator cannot fit. This eliminates the need to poke holes in the walls searching for the bugs. Secondly, the thermal imaging capabilities of the robot extends the human vision to be able to 'see through walls' to where the insects build their nests. Finally, the robot can deliver the insecticide directly to the nest instead of having to poison an entire house for a small infestation. This saves chemicals and reduces the stress to the environment.

Remote-controlled robot uses thermal imaging to detect and eradicate termites - gizmag Article

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Robots to Guard Israeli Border Kill Zone

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are deploying automated weapon robots along the border of the Gaza Strip to create a buffer kill zone to prevent unauthorized infiltrations.

The system, called the "See-Shoot" system, is currently being installed and will be fully operational by the end of 2007. It consists of automated weapons stations connected through a command center to visual, ground andairborne sensors.

The system is the culmination of years of development by defense contractors Rafael, Elbit Systems and IMI.

The system is part of an IDF strategy of low-signature/no-signature warfare. The no-signature doctrine strives to keep soldiers out of harms way as much as possible.

However, "no-signature" warfare does not mean 'no responsibility' yet.
Eventually the See-Shoot system will be able to operate as a completely autonomous closed-loop system. But for now, the sensor data will be monitored by soldiers and a commanding officer will approve activation of the automated kill function.

The system is designed to enforce a 1500 meter(almost 1 mile) wide area along the border. Future plans include adding anti-tank missiles to extend the width of the no-mans land to several kilometers.

I wonder if they made plans for removing the dead bodies from the kill zone. Will they have to disable the whole system or do they have a robot that can drive through the zone and clean up? Maybe they will just leave the dead bodies laying around to mark the boundary of the buffer zone.

Similar automated systems are under development for the border in Korea. - Israel Wants Robotic Guns, Missiles To Guard Gaza Border - 06/01/07 17:55

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Soft Touch Child Robot

From Daily Yomiuri:

A child-sized android with flexible joints and soft skin developed by the Japan Science and Technology Agency was unveiled Friday at Osaka University, where the agency's research and development team is based.

The 1.3-meter-tall, 33 kilogram humanoid robot has optical, auditory and tactile sensors. Fifty-one actuators inside its body run on compressed air and enable the robot to make complex movements smoothly.

About 200 tactile sensors are embedded in the robot's gray skin, which is made of silicon and other materials. The robot can react to its surroundings by blinking and altering its facial expressions.

The robot, which has the physical ability of a 1- or 2-year-old toddler, can turn over and stand up with assistance.
At the news conference Friday, the humanoid moved its hands and feet and turned its eyes.
The 33-kilogram humanoid is fitted with an artificial vocal cord can also form words.

Its name is CB2, an abbreviation of Child-Robot with Biomimetic Body.

Child robot makes debut : Science & Nature : Features : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

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Friday, June 01, 2007

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