Saturday, June 16, 2012

Robots Become More Autonomous, Lines Blur Between Military & Civilian Applications

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The Talon by QinetiQ: One Tough Robot

Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Spur Military Robot Development Three robot developers, iRobot, QinetiQ, and AeroVironment are noted in the video below The first robot shown is a QinetiQ Raider / Engineer, which is "a tele-operated, gas-powered system based upon the 4WD Polaris vehicle, capable of supporting varied missions to include route clearance". The PackBot is "One of the most successful battle-tested robots in the world, the iRobot PackBot performs bomb disposal and other dangerous missions for warfighters and first responders". The QinetiQ Dragon Runner, a Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV), "is a lightweight, compact, multi-mission remote platform developed for supporting small unit, dismounted operations". A larger version of the Dragon Runner is the Talon. AeroVironment has been covered in previous posts regarding their Hummingbird Spybot and Wasp Micro Air Vehicle.

Autonomy Is the Goal Remote control robots are helpful and reduce risk, but robot autonomy increases capabilities and options. These systems are now at the threshold of artificial intelligence, i.e., "thinking for themselves". The iRobot PackBot can determine it is disabled, tipped over, and right itself. The robot "recovers itself". The iRobot Ava is touted for its "autonomous navigation for independent, proactive point-to-point navigation". That is, Ava maps its "world" via sensor arrays (laser, sonar, and 2D/3Dimaging) and then navigate independently in a "dynamic, crowded environment".

Robots March Home from War Ten years of war have given robot developers a chance to refine and improve their bots. Now the robots are finding all sorts of new jobs on the home front.

Ava by iRobot: Mobile Robotics Platform with Autonomous Navigation


Seeking Alpha