A small, helicopter-like drone could be the best defense against an intruder.
Japanese security company Secom has announced that they'll be renting out camera-equipped drones capable detecting intruders, following them and taking their pictures. The drones, which are 24 inches wide and weigh only 3.5 pounds, can accomplish this task automatically or via a dispatcher.
The idea is to let managers of large buildings like factories monitor areas that aren't covered well by conventional security cameras. And even in areas that are covered, a drone can get closer to the action and provide more details.
Each drone, the company says, is programmed to remain a constant distance from whatever it's following, either a person or a car, for safety reasons. If communications with the drone are interrupted, it automatically lands in a safe place to avoid damaging itself.
The system might be a better sell in the United States rather than Japan,
since crime of any sort in Japan -- includng break-ins -- is relatively
companies can rent the drone as part of Secom's online security system
for around 5,000 yen ($58) a month some time after April 2014, though a company spokesperson said Secom wants to expand that to other countries eventually.
The four-legged LS3 robot follows soliders around, and can carry 400 pounds of equipment. Credit: Boston Dynamics
A four-legged U.S. military robot carrying 400 pounds of equipment has
shown how it can play "follow the leader" in a manner similar to a
trained mule or horse. Like an animal, it can also regain its feet after
an accidental tumble in the woods.
The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot has evolved into a quieter beast compared to earlier four-legged "BigDog" or "AlphaDog" robots
that sounded like runaway lawnmowers or chainsaw-armed Terminators. The
latest LS3 version represents the U.S. military's best hope for a
robotic helper that can carry combat loads across rough terrain for
soldiers or Marines.
A new video by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
demonstrates how the robot obeys a verbal command by a human researcher:
"LS3 follow tight."
Several camera shots show the LS3 robot ambling after its human leader
like an overlarge, clumsy puppy trying to keep up with an owner. At one
point the robot takes a tumble and rolls almost comically down a slope
before regaining its feet.
The video also shows the robot, made by Boston Dynamics, trotting
along more briskly in a manner vaguely reminiscent of high-stepping
horse. The robot succeeded in navigating ditches, streams, wooded slopes
and mock-urban environments during the field testing by DARPA and the
Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
U.S. Marines have already spent months working with robotic helicopters
capable of delivering supplies to outposts or frontline troops. A
robotic mule could serve different, if equally useful, purposes for
squads on patrol.
DARPA envisions the robot acting like a mobile recharging station for
U.S. troops to recharge pounds of batteries used in radios and handheld
mobile devices. The Marines have already experimented with using
renewable energy sources such as portable solar panels to replace some
of the batteries they carry.
But the LS3 robot's greatest potential use comes from carrying some of
the combat equipment that soldiers might normally have to carry
themselves. The heavy burden of combat loads averaging close to 100 pounds per soldier has already taken a serious health toll on both active troops and returning veterans.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil Joins Google: Ray Kurzweil is more than an inventor. Sure, he gave us the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. But Kurzweil is more than that. He is keenly focused on exploring how biological systems (mostly human) will merge with artificial intelligence in ways that will impact science, economics, politics, medicine, education and everything in between.
Today, he starts his new job as Director of Engineering at Google. It's unclear what he'll be doing but anyone who has heard of Google's X Lab might be able to put two and two together. The X Lab is a secret facility where technologists are working on 100 projects pertaining to future technologies. Surely Kurzweil will get a peak inside.
He's been thinking about or something like it for 13 years. On his website, Kurzweil said, "In 1999, I said that in about a decade we would see technologies such as self-driving cars and mobile phones that could answer your questions, and people criticized these predictions as unrealistic. Fast forward a decade — Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones. It’s easy to shrug our collective shoulders as if these technologies have always been around, but we’re really on a remarkable trajectory of quickening innovation, and Google is at the forefront of much of this development."
Robots. Swarming robots. Swarming robots that communicate with flying robots. All in a lifetime's work for these researchers in Belgium and Spain, who have create flying robots who can direct a robot swarm from above. It's always good to have someone who can see the forest for the trees, don't you think?
Sea Glider Survives Sandy: A seafaring robot named Mercury, one of many autonomous Wave Gliders designed to record weather data, road out the storm unharmed earlier this week. Floating about 100 miles off the coast of New Jersey, Mercury faced winds exceeding 80 mph. It moves across the surface of the ocean by converting the motions of waves into forward thrust. Suspended below the surface is a winged platform equipped with instruments that also measure salinity, water temperature, wave motion, weather and dissolved oxygen.
"Mercury now joins the fleet of other Wave Gliders that have come through Category I hurricanes to successfully fulfill their missions," Edward Lu, chief of innovative applications for Liquid Robotics told TechNewsDaily. "This is a testament to our robust and reliable technology and proof of its readiness for severe weather data collection."
An army of self-assembling swarm bots can get together and do certain jobs. But because each of them has a unique and limited perspective of the world, they could always use a little help. Enter the overhead quadrotor drone. This guy has the advantage of a bird's eye view of the area and can coordinate the team to work together more efficiently to overcome obstacles or perform tasks.
In the video below, the quadrotor uses stereo imagery to compute how steep a hill is, runs an onboard simulation to see how many ground robots will have to team up to make it over and then directs the robots to team up and go over the bridge. The idea was demonstrated in Portugal at the 2012 Intelligent Robots and Systems conference by a team of researchers from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto Universitario de Lisboa. via IEEE Spectrum
You remember MacGyver, right? That guy on CBS that could create a life-saving tool out of a paperclip and a rubberband? Or just about anything else lying around? Me neither, I was too young to have ever watched that show, but since I've seen a lot of pop culture references to it in my lifetime, I get the gist. The U.S. Navy is funding a project to build a robot that uses the same turning-scrap-into-tools method as the popular '80s secret agent to help trapped troops.
The robot's brain will be based on software developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Data gathered from the surrounding environment, will be combined to identify objects and decide whether they can be used to aid in a situation. For example, if the bot is trying to find a way to climb out of an area, and it sees a bunch of debris lying around, it will stack the scraps and build a way out.
But it won't be easy. Professor Barbra Webb from the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics told the BBC, it's harder than it seems. " Vision alone is not enough to tell you if an object can support your weight or be used as a lever -- you need to interact with it physically to understand its physical possibilities."
A robot named Golem Krang is standing by, though, waiting to be the first to try it out. If it works, researchers hope to use this technology to help rescue trapped military personnel without having to endanger any other lives.
Robot Will Follow Demonstrations: The future of robot programming is less programming and more monkey-see-monkey-do, reports New Scientist.
Complex programming languages might be a thing of the past soon. As robots get more intelligent they may be able to learn tasks by watching humans perform them first. The benefits to production and construction are easy to see.
The key to this prototype is the Microsoft Kinect watching the human perform the task in three dimensions and in real-time, then the robot mimics the behaviors. This means, in the future, neither a robotics expert nor a software engineer will have to be called in with minor changes in a manufacturing process. Instead, a human can "teach" the robot the new behavior and it will be off to the races. via New Scientist
It's a massive computing challenge, but an important one for designing autonomous fliers that can operate when they can't "hear" a remote operator or satellite. GPS signals can occasionally be blocked by bad weather or in combat situations by jamming. A plane that can navigate with no outside help at all has an advantage over remotely controlled drones.
MIT's Robust Robotics Group has built a plane that can fly around a room -- specifically, weaving around pillars in a parking garage, where no GPS signal can penetrate. They were able to write an algorithm that allowed the airplane to determine its own acceleration, speed, orientation and position.
While there are some air vehicles that can navigate around obstacles and even coordinate with each other in the air, they tend to be helicopters. Helicopters can control their flight more precisely at low speeds, but they can't stay up long because they use a lot of power just to hover. A fixed-wing aircraft can stay up longer on a given amount of fuel (or charge), but it can't manuever as easily as a helicopter.
To deal with that, the MIT researchers gave the plane relatively short and stubby wings that allow it greater maneuverability and slower airspeeds.
The MIT team cheated a bit, giving the aircraft a "map" of it's surroundings that they knew was accurate. But that isn't so different from having map data uploaded to any robot's memory. Even with that, the plane still had to figure out where it was and where it was pointed. That required an on-board laser rangefinder, accelerometers and gyroscopes. A dozen values had to be calculated in a fraction of a second.
The next step is a plane that can figure out a map of its environment as it goes along. That might require adding visual information to the rangefinder -- a big challenge, but they have proved it is possible, at least in principle.
We've heard about their potential for getting frisky in the bedroom. We've also seen how consoling they can be to someone on their deathbed. Now robots are set to conquer a new kind of bed -- a hospital bed.
RP-VITA will be be cloud-connected, linked to your entire medical record and have special ports for plugging in diagnostic devices such as otoscopes and ultrasound. Plus, it will be potentially capable of autonomous navigation if its FDA patent is accepted. The robot is also equipped with the latest electronic stethoscope, a video screen and is controlled with an iPad.
"The RP-VITA is a game changer for acute care telemedicine, and it will become the cornerstone for many new clinical applications and uses. The RP-VITA is a platform that will immediately improve existing healthcare delivery models, and through additional collaboration and development will create new clinical innovations that we can only imagine," InTouch Health’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Yulun Wang said in a press release.
As many hospitals struggle with the pressure of reducing operating expenses without compromising provided care, RP-VITA is expected to extend the reach and effectiveness of health care professionals.
"The RP-VITA raises the bar for overseeing patient care remotely and allows me to proactively control a situation as if I were there,” said Dr. Jason Knight, Director of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County Transport Program and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, Irvine. “The robot is so easy to use that I can forget about the technology and just focus on the clinical needs at hand.