Japan's Ministry of Defense Research Department has developed a flying robot that works similarly to a helicopter. But it can also go forward at high speed or roll on the ground. And if it hits another object it just keeps moving along since it has gyro sensors. It weighs about 350 g, is 42cm in diameter and because it can be made from already available parts, only costs about $1,400 to build. Future plans for the Spherical Flying Machine are to use for reconnaissance and rescue situations. We may not shop in the same stores but we suspect other robotic experts to soon build their own version of the clever flybot.
Those U of Penn. Researchers have not only created a Poop Scoop, their MODLAB has a robot that can build and repair others or itself with spray-on foam and modular parts. The FoamBot is a wheeled cart with jointed modules that can spray to connect them to each other. The basic plan here is to develop a robot that can handle unknown emergencies quickly and cheaply. It's no surprise that they can be used in military applications, planetary endeavors and disaster relief, not to mention building several versions of itself for the eventual planet takeover.
A virus has hit the military's UAV fleet. Wired reports that it has been around for about two weeks, but officials have still managed to keep the program active, including the September 30 strike in Yemen. Details are sketchy as to its purpose, but it seems the key logger payload locks in keystrokes that drone operators perform. They have yet to be able to remove the virus and are not sure if its arrival was intentional or accidental. And while it has not caused any obvious damage as yet, this certainly proves that nothing is totally safe in the Interweb world.
The University of Maryland has teamed with DARPA and come up with two jumping robots. One is a 4mm bot with power source control system and light sensors that goes up 8 cm, equal to 20 times its height. The other has microfabricated elastomer springs that store up energy and release it when it is ready to take off. This mini-bot can go 80 times its own height. We call that a super spy.
The U.S. military is sending some armed drones to eastern Africa as they seem concerned that al Qaeda may be moving to the area. A base on the island nation of Seychelles has reopened and MQ-9 Reapers are to be deployed there. They feel that using that location may cut back on the militants' ability to track them. While drones were used there back in 2009 only for surveillance on pirates, this time they have the ability to fire Hellfire missiles and 500 lb. bombs. Let's hope the public knowledge about the mission is enough to scare away the bad guys.
ReconRobotics has been awarded $5.8 million to build micro robots for the military. They have requested 385 Recon Scout XT kits. Each weighs about a pound and can be used in areas too dangerous for humans. Both the bot and its controller can be charged from battery systems that the troops already carry and each has a titanium shell and urethane wheels that provide a drop shock resistance of 30 ft. They will be used for vehicle inspection, clearing spaces, evaluating IEDs and remote observation.
The Army is beginning a 21 day trial run this week with a remote controlled submersible. The Remotely Operated Underwater Munitions Recovery System robotic arm has been specifically designed to remove WW II munitions. It will be recovering grenades, bullets and their casings, and bombs. ROUMRS is similar to those used by offshore oil rigs and can go down 120 ft. to vacuum up small objects.
After the demonstration, the damage to the reef and the collection will be studied and, if considered successful, the military will start the removal next year.
Joe Tucker, who lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident in 1995, is the proud recipient of a $95,000 waterproof, bionic replacement. Although he has tried 6 other legs, he claims that this is the first one to make him feel "able-bodied" again. The battery powered prosthetic, known as a Genium, contains a sensory system to help the human walk easily, avoid obstacles and climb stairs. Unsurprisingly, the German firm Otto Bock built the leg in cooperation with the US military and Joe is one of the first civilians to receive one.
The Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense has created a spherical flying bot that can fly at a speed of up to 40 mph and hover if need be. Not only is the spybot multi-talented, should it run into a wall, obstacle or human, it will roll to prevent damage. About the size of a soccer ball, it navigates via a single propeller and can be adapted to carry a camera. Each goes for about $1,000 and is only available in Japan for now.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that President Obama has approved sending Predator drones to Libya, to help support the rebels there. Since they can provide better targeting, the hope is that they can reduce the amount of civilians and insurgents being killed. While there is not much news about the situation, it is believed that they are already in place.
(Update: It would seem that rebels have overtaken Misrata after a successful drone attack on a multiple rocket launcher that had been used against civilians there. We will try to continue to update and look forward to your comments.)