• Roving robot can rescue people, detonate bombs

    Northeastern University student-researchers have created a roving robot that can locate and rescue victims of natural disasters or participate in military missions that are too dangerous for soldiers; students created a complex algorithm that would enable the robot to locate people — or even bombs that are detonated through mobile phones

  • Tiltable-head robots adept at navigating disaster debris

    Search and rescue missions have made the headlines in the last eighteen months, following the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the floods in Pakistan and New Zealand, and the tsunami in Japan; machines able to navigate through complex dirt and rubble environments could have helped rescuers after these natural disasters, but building such machines is challenging; Georgia Tech researchers have now built a robot that can penetrate and “swim” through granular material

  • Search-and-rescue robot operators get better with practice

    Urban search and rescue (USAR) task forces are essential for locating, stabilizing, and extricating people who become trapped in confined spaces following a catastrophic event; sometimes the search area is too unstable for a live rescue team, so rescuers have turned to robots carrying video cameras; trouble is, research shows that more often than not, the human beings who remotely operate the robots have a view of their robot-control skills which is at variance with reality, causing robots to get stuck

  • Student aero-design competition to be held next week

    The Aero Design competition, to be held at the end of the month, is intended to provide undergraduate and graduate engineering students with a real-life engineering challenge; the organizers say the competition has been designed to provide exposure to the kinds of situations that engineers face in their real-life work environment; students will find themselves performing trade studies and making compromises to arrive at a design solution that will optimally meet the mission requirements while still conforming to the configuration limitations

  • U.S. military robot to help detect radiation at Fukushima

    The modified a military robot to navigate around Fukushima plant and produce a color-coded map of radiation levels; the robot includes a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive detection kit that can identify more than 7,500 environmental hazards, including toxic industrial chemicals and volatile gases; it also has temperature and air quality indicators and night vision, and it can sense sounds up to 1,000 meters away; the robot joins other pieces of specialized equipment, donated by QineticQ to help Japan deal with the crisis

  • High School students build Florida police a robot

    In Rockledge, Florida, the local police department just purchased a new remote controlled robot that is equipped with a video camera, night vision, a gas canister launcher; rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the robot from a defense company, the Rockledge police department turned to local high school students; the robot can handle any terrain, launch grenades, and is strong enough to drag a person; it is also outfitted with a speaker and a microphone to enable two way communications in addition to a police throw phone that can be deployed during hostage negotiations; the robot cost $6,000 whereas similar professionally made robot would have cost more than $100,000

  • Lockheed developing autonomous and covert rover

    A surveillance robot aims to operate around humans without being detected by them; the machine uses a laser scanner to builds a 3D computer model of its surroundings and uses a set of acoustic sensors to distinguish the proximity and direction of footsteps

  • First response, law enforcement ground robot market to grow

    The current market for first responder and law enforcement ground robots is estimated at $203 million; just-published research says that the market is poised for a significant growth; first responder robots cost about $50,000 and up, which is the cost of a person for one year; the challenge for vendors is thus to find applications where the robot is used 24x7 365 days per year

  • Boston Dynamics developing humanoid and robot cheetah

    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Boston Dynamics, an advanced robotics developer, a contract to build “Cheetah,” a fast and agile robot capable of chasing and evading; the eighteen year old engineering company is also working on a humanoid robot named “Atlas” based on the design of “PETMAN,” an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing used by the U.S. army

  • Robot marathon announced -- 26.2 miles to robotic glory

    Japan’s Vstone company has announced its Robotic Challenge: the bipedal bots will race around a 100 meter track for 422 laps, either remotely controlled or operating completely autonomously, by following a painted line; the contest is unlikely to feature sprinting or even jogging competitors; rather, this race will go to the strong and steady robot that can survive the repeated wear and tear on its servos

  • Manhole covers help orient urban robots

    It is critical for robots to check their calculated position every now and then against a known GPS position — because robot wheels can slip (their rotations are counted to give position estimates) or a robot’s leg stride can be miscalculated, leaving dead reckoning dead in the water; the solution: have robots in urban environments orient themselves by manhole covers; manhole covers are amongst the more permanent of objects in our built environment and, better still, they are made of metal — and so are easily detectable by a simple metal detecting scanner

  • Foreign orders for Mass.-built bomb-disposal robots

    Massachusetts-based robot maker received orders for twenty-seven additional bomb-disposal robots from unnamed international customers; the company has delivered bomb-disposal robots to more than twenty-five countries

  • Police robot ends Wisconsin standoff

    Last Friday, a Northrop Grumman police robot was sent to investigate an SUV parked on the shoulder of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, highway; the robot approached the two potentially dangerous suspects holed up in an SUV, transmitted instructions from a hostage negotiator sitting safely in a nearby truck, and punched out the rear window of the suspects’ stolen car, helping police end the standoff peacefully

  • Fully robotic, remotely controlled bomb-disposal hand nears

    Engineers have developed a robotic hand that offers remotely controlled, highly dexterous movements that could lead to a breakthrough in areas such as bomb disposal; the robotic hand can be remotely controlled by a glove worn by an operator connected to a computer; this can then communicate via a wireless connection with the hand offering real time comparable movements

  • USAF looking to emulate fruit-flies for killer insect swarm drones

    The U.S. Air Force is studying how fruit flies maneuver within a heavily instrumented “simulation tunnel” in order to develop tiny, potentially lethal insect-sized flying robots; tiny military swarm droids could scatter across towns or cities to locate or spy on persons of interest to the U.S. military; they might even be able to land on the back of someone’s neck and blow his head off using some kind of tiny warhead