The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, held a robotics competition in Miami, Fla. over the weekend. At the two-day event, the world’s best robots were put to the test, competing in tasks designed to help humans in natural or man-made disasters, including opening doors or climbing up stairs, by relying on sensors or cameras to understand their environment. A total of 16 teams competed for the $2 million prize. RT’s Nicholas O’Donovan attended the event and brings us more.
The development of robots capable of operating in a melange of disarray and hazards will allow relief agencies to reduce the danger to disaster victims and first responders alike. This is the goal of DARPA’s multi-year Robotics Challenge, which in December will pit a variety of robots and software against a series of eight real-world tasks that might be encountered in actual disaster situations. . . Read Complete Report w/photos and videos.
Featured Image: [In The] the early 1480s, . . . Leonardo da Vinci created a design for a machine that could be described as an “aerial screw”, that any recorded advancement was made towards vertical flight. His notes suggested that he built small flying models, but there were no indications for any provision to stop the rotor from making the craft rotate.[14
From IEEE Spectrum By Lyle Chamberlain & Sebastian Scherer
We’re standing on the edge of the hot Arizona tarmac, radio in hand, holding our breath as the helicopter passes 50 meters overhead. We watch as the precious sensor on its blunt nose scans every detail of the area, the test pilot and engineer looking down with coolly professional curiosity as they wait for the helicopter to decide where to land. They’re just onboard observers. The helicopter itself is in charge here.
Traveling at 40 knots, it banks to the right. We smile: The aircraft has made its decision, probably setting up to do a U-turn and land on a nearby clear area. Suddenly, the pilot’s voice crackles over the radio: “I have it!” That means he’s pushing the button that disables the automatic controls, switching back to manual flight. Our smiles fade. “The aircraft turned right,” the pilot explains, “but the test card said it would turn left.” . . . Read Complete Report
Sep. 3, 2013 — A research team from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has created efficient artificial, or “robotic” muscles, which could carry a weight 80 times its own and able to extend to five times its original length when carrying the load — a first in robotics. The team’s invention will pave the way for the constructing of life-like robots with superhuman strength and ability. . . . Read Complete Report
Photography machines prompt yawns from the big cats, but capture stunning images for National Geographic.
How close would you want to get to a lion with your camera for that perfect shot? It turns out that one way to capture the terrifying beasts — and produce spectacular images — is with a mini roving robot.
National Geographic lensman Michael “Nick” Nichols and videographer Nathan Williamson used a remote-controlled camera robot and a MikroKopter mini UAV to photograph a pride of lions in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. . . . Read Complete Report
One of the first visitors to Jupiter’s icy moon of Europa could be a tiny submarine barely larger than two soda cans. The small craft might help strike the right balance between cost and capability for a robotic mission to look for alien life in the ocean beneath Europa’s icy crust. . . . Read Complete Report
Featured Image:ASIMO is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Standing at 130 centimeters and weighing 54 kilograms, the robot resembles a small astronaut wearing a backpack and can walk on two feet in a manner resembling human locomotion at up to 6 km/h. ASIMO was created at Honda’s Research & Development Wako Fundamental Technical Research Center in Japan. CREDIT: Gnsin at Expo 2005, in Japan. SOURCE: Wikipedia Commons (Public Domain).
Most TED talks if not all are thought provoking. The one given by moral philosopher Peter Singer on effective altruism (see Video 1) at TED 2013 Longbeach (CA) is no exception. This talk is actually a call for action. We don’t need to be billionaires to help others around the world. We can either offer part of our time or our money. However, this emotion-driven reaction can be leveraged by using our brains to figure out the most effective way to use resources we have at hand.
What’s the connection with robotics? The answer to this question lies in another question: What can roboticists, do to change the world for the better? As a matter of fact, there are already people that use robots in projects that positively impacts our society or our planet. . . . Read Complete Report w/videos
New “insect eye” cameras could someday help flying drones see into every corner of a battlefield or give tiny medical scopes an all-around view inside the human body. A team of researchers from the United States has constructed such a camera, which offers an almost 180-degree field of view using hundreds of tiny lenses.
The centimeter-wide digital camera has 180 microlenses—roughly what fire ants or bark beetles have in their compound eyes—placed on a hemispherical array. Researchers hope their design will eventually lead to insect-eye cameras that exceed even nature’s blueprints, according to a report in the 2 May issue of the journal Nature. . . . Read Complete Report