In the latest of your monthly dose of robot drones coming to a theatre of war hopefully-some-distance-from-you we have news that DARPA have developed a remote military robot with the capability to jump over walls:
Most of the time, the shoebox-sized robot – which is being developed for the US military – uses its four wheels to get around.
But the Precision Urban Hopper can use a piston-actuated “leg” to launch it over obstacles such as walls or fences.
The robot could boost the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban warfare, say researchers.
It occurs to me that in a couple of decades this kind of robot could have developed into a truly terrifying war machine. Imagine thousands of tank-sized versions of these, each containing a really pissed-off synthetic cat brain programmed to zap humans with a tactical high-energy laser.
[from the BBC, via h+ Magazine][image from h+ Magazine]
News that Japanese company Toshiba are developing a houskeeping robot – ApriAttenda – designed specifically to care for the elderly:
Japan, with a high life expectancy and low birth rate, faces a shortage of caregivers for elderly people and has loosened its tight immigration rules to invite hundreds of nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia.
“As aging of the population is a common problem for developed countries, Japan wants to become an advanced country in the area of addressing the aging society with the use of robots,” the official told AFP.
It also occurs to me that I’m due to shuffle into codgerhood around circa 2060. I wonder what fifty years of R&D on ApriAttenda, or this, could lead to…
[image and article from Physorg, Engadget, and this comment at Charlie’s Place]
Obligatory shout-out to Pentagon boffins for their most recent bout of world-domineering mad-scientica. The Pentagon proposes to:
…develop a software/hardware suit that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject.
According to Prof Steve Wright of Leeds Metropolitan University:
“What we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs. Once the software is perfected we can reasonably anticipate that they will become autonomous and become armed.
We can also expect such systems to be equipped with human detection and tracking devices including sensors which detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat. These are technologies already developed.”
Like a PACK OF DOGS I SAY! Muahahahahahaaa!
You gotta laugh, right? 😉
[from New Scientist, via KurzweilAI.net][image from this New Scientist blog post]
Is this a great idea for engineering, or a way to make our toasters self-aware and kill us all?
Researchers want to build in to bridges, airplanes, and other large structures a type of nervous system that, among other things, would detect any defects such as cracks or rust, and relay that to a central computer that could tell engineers and repair workers what needed to be fixed. This Structural Health Monitoring (SMH) system would use ultrasound waves travelling through really teeny, tiny fibers embedded into the material to detect any potential dangers. After the recent airline maintenance scandal in the US, this could really be useful.
(Note: I also came across this book from a conference in Tokyo in 2003 on the same topic for you eggheads who really want to get into this. Forgive me if I don’t read all 1300 pages of engineering articles)
(via Scitechdaily) (image from massdistraction)
With people starting to talk about the rights of robots, I thought it’d be a good time to link to the fun site ‘Let’s Make Robots’, which has a pretty comprehensive set of blog entries and guides to building your own cybertronic friend. Start at the post advising you the best way to build your own robot and work your way through some of the variety of constructions made by the team.
Of course, if you’re not in the mood for a bit of android DIY, there’s plenty of other places you can watch other people’s creations. Try the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, or the hovering Drone soon to be working for Miami Police . Alternatively, if you don’t care about robot rights and just want to watch them take each other apart, try some of the Robot Wars sites like Roaming Robots or the homesite of Tornado, the winner of the 6th UK wars. There’s even recent highlights from Japan’s ROBO-ONE, which pits bipedal robots against each other in the ring. After all, one of the Robot Wars judges thinks that we’ll be watching real battles of robots ‘within ten years’. A British group is already campaigning against autonomous robots capable of killing humans.
[picture via Let’s Make Robots of a robot by Fredrik Andersson]