May 29, 2009

Embers - Almost Ready to Swarm

iRobot continues its patriotic duty to develop Packbot robots for the military. This time they are working on LANdroids, small networking and surveillance robots. Ember runs on reversible treads with flippers to pick itself up and make its way over obstacles. It also has a cam, an antenna mount and its own Facebook photo album. Soldiers can carry the bots that weigh less than a pound and send them in a swarm to check out suspicious locations and create a wireless network. Hopefully, they will be able to produce them so cheaply they will ultimately be disposable.

Via Wired

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May 26, 2009

Military Robots to Get Ethical Guide


Professor of computer science at Georgia Tech Ronald Arkin is developing a guide to making sure that robots are programmed with ethics when on a battlefield. Based on his soon to be released book, "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots," he is creating hard and software that tells robots when and what to fire.

While that technology will undoubtedly not exist for another 50 years, humans will still be involved in the operation of military bots. Should there be an error, the builder or software engineer would ultimately be held responsible. But wouldn't it be a wondrous thing if we could have bots fight our wars so that humans could stay home?


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May 21, 2009

Phantom Ray Testing for War


Check the skies in December of next year and you may see a Phantom Ray on its way to war. Based on the military's X-45C, the UCAS-D prototype drone will soon undergo lab testing of its capabilities which include electronic attack, hunter killer and autonomous aerial refueling. If all goes well, after the 2010 first flight, 10 more have been scheduled.

Via gizmag

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May 18, 2009

Self-Taught Robotic Helicopter

Stanford has been working on a helicopter that can actually learn to fly by "watching" other ones. Andrew Ng and his team of graduate students equipped an off-the-shelf RC copter with accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, with tracking that can be accomplished either on the ground or by GPS. During a demonstration the AI flier performed various maneuvers including rolls, loops, flips and more. Possible future applications might include fire and war area searches, but at this point we are still in awe that it teaches itself.

Via Stanford

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May 12, 2009

Croww 540 ATV- Heavy Lifting


We can't wait to see this one on the road. The Croww 540 can cross sand or ice while carrying heavy loads, equipment, or people while also providing shelter and protection. The prototype has a baseplate, 6 legs, cameras, sensors and a detachable cylindrical battery. It transforms with air tubes in its legs that automatically inflate it into a tent. We bet the military will grab this one, but we think this would make a great camping vehicle.


Via Gizmo Watch

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May 6, 2009

Rovio Puts Out the Flames


A member of WowWee's Robo Community hacked his Rovio's software and turned it into an automatic fire extinguisher. The bot can identify a blaze and extinguish it with a custom fire suppressant spray. "Colt 45" is hoping that he can get some funding to turn the prototype into one for commercial use or perhaps even equipping it with a gun to turn it into an anti-terrorist bot.

Via Robo Community

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April 24, 2009

AquaPenguins Get Along Swimmingly

Festo's AquaPenguins not only resemble their live counterparts, they can move like them. They can be manuevered in all directions and even swim backwards. Applications include being used as autonomous underwater crafts while communicating with other robot penguins to keep them from colliding. Wanting to do more than just invade the ocean, the German company also came up with AirPenguins, but we suspect that spying capabilities isn't part of their plans.

Via Festo (translated)

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April 20, 2009

Military Robtics Are Everywhere


Robots are becoming obvious in their usage by the military. An anti-tax protester tossed a box of tea bags on the White House lawn last week. The Secret Service, being cautious as they are when they don't know what it being thrown over the fence, sent in one of their robots to check it out. And when Captain Richard Phillips was being held as a hostage, the military sent in a Navy ScanEagle, an unmanned drone, to send images of the situation.

Via Washington Post and Aviation Week

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April 17, 2009

Marco Polo Game Teaches Detection and Interception


Duke University and Univ. of New Mexico researchers took the basic principles of the swimming game Marco Polo to increase a robot's ability to detect and intercept things that are moving via algorithms. The bots have camera sensors that can identify where cells within a certain space are and then can figure out where it will move. Obviously, this can have military applications in the future, but we wonder if we could use it to simply find our car keys.

Via Science Daily

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April 2, 2009

iRobot Warrior X700, Robot of Mass Detruction


This is no cutesy Roomba. The new iRobot Warrior X700 is being prepared for urban warfare. Weighing about 250 lbs., it can haul 500 lbs., 150 of them with its arm alone. Available by the second half of next year, the bot can go 10 miles per hour to deploy weapon systems or needed supplies to troops and can perform some functions autonomously. Even scarier, the X700 can fire a machine gun or 40mm round of explosives and one variant can shoot 16 rounds a second simultaneously from four barrels. As of now, the company hasn't perfected its return to base if communications are lost. We certainly hope it can tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy and, for that matter, a civilian.

Via Defense News

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