Tag Archives: robots

[ARTICLE & VIDEO] The Bomb Squad Olympics: Western National Robot Rodeo


This summer, Los Alamos National Labs and Sandia National Labs held the seventh annual Western National Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise (CAPEX), in which operators of bomb squad robots were pitted against each other in competitions to see who is the best. Expert operators from Bomb Squads and other public safety organizations use advanced skills to maneuver Hazardous Duty Robots in challenging, real world scenarios.

The Western National Robot Rodeo is a five-day, 10~12 event technical competition that includes scenarios like:

• Obstacle Course
• Vehicle-Borne IED
• Airplane search
• IED in a Culvert
• Field Diagnosis of a “Sick” Robot
• Navigation by global positioning system (GPS)
• Mobile Drug Lab
• Smoke-filled Building
• Rescue Downed Firefighters
• Live Fire Maneuvers
• Operator Proficiency

Unmanned Drone Tested Aboard Aircraft Carrier

If you think you’ve seen everything when it comes to the military’s pilotless drones, hold your hats ‘cuz you’ve seen nothing yet. This past November, the military began testing the X-47B unmanned drone aboard the USS Truman, an aircraft carrier. The X-47B is a concept drone aircraft (see the Northrop Grumman data sheet large enough to actually fit a person in the cockpit – were there any need for a pilot. One of the greatest challenges of modern military aviation is landing a plane aboard the limited runway space of an aircraft carrier, and if the X-47B is any indication, it appears it won’t be long before on-board human pilots will be taken out of the equation.

This Video Of The Navy’s X-47B Drone On An Aircraft Carrier Is A Glimpse Into The Future [via Business Insider]

Japanese Company Plans to Rent Surveillance Drones to Everyday Homeowners

Secom, the largest security company in Japan, is preparing to offer a service in which it will rent a drone to homeowners for as little as $60 a month. They promise the drone will be launched in the event the user’s home is burglarized, in which case it will hover over the home and take photographs/video of the burglary in action, making it more likely the thieves are caught. (No, it will not fire missiles). It will be a little while, though as Secom hopes to make the service available in 2014. The service will be limited to Japan for now, though the company wants to eventually expand to other countries. In any event, it is an interesting development on how drones are becoming more mainstream in their use. Secom reportedly hopes its drones will be a cost-effective surveillance solution for not just personal homes but also large warehouses and even open clearings where mounting surveillance cameras would be either too expensive or impractical.

Local police departments in both the U.S. (such as Miami PD in limited circumstances) and United Kingdom have recently started making use of drones as part of their tactical response to certain emergency situations, and it is only a matter of time before their use extends to the average person.

Japanese security company announces first private drone rentals [via Japan Daily Press]

[ARTICLE] In the Not-So-Distant Future, Mannequins May Watch You Shop

Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA is reportedly introducing the EyeSee mannequin to retailers, which at about $5,000 a pop can allow shopkeepers to do covert surveillance of customers as they shop. Retailers have already used surveillance cameras for years, but the cameras mounted inside the mannequin allow shop owners to view customers’ shopping behavior from eye level rather than from cameras suspended high up in the air. This in theory would allow retailers to not only see how customers browse the wares in their store (which is useful marketing data in itself) but it could be a more effective method of surveillance to catch shoplifters. Even more interesting (and some say creepy) is that the EyeSee mannequins employ facial recognition software to monitor customers’ race, age, and gender, and the company is also reportedly developing audio surveillance capability to eavesdrop on customer conversations. They will even be able to pick up on certain keywords mentioned in conversation that can help further study shoppers’ buying habits.

[VIDEO] The Universal Jamming Gripper Robot

The Universal Jamming Gripper robot uses a novel method as the design for an affordable artificial “hand” that can grab and hold on to virtually any tool or object from almost any position. Developed by researchers at Cornell University, the idea is so simple yet effective, you’ll just have to watch the video to believe it. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the robot hand could one day be used by military and police agencies to conduct delicate tasks such as the safe removal and disposal of explosive devices.

[VIDEO] This Robot Will Kill You

This thing is ridiculously cool. I would consider saying otherwise, but I’m too afraid it’ll find me and kill me. It has a turning radius of zero. It can tow a Hummer. And it can drive through a wall.

The Mega Hurtz Tactical Robot, designed by Chris Rogers of Inspector Bots, fires non-lethal projectiles such as pepper balls from its turret mounted paintball gun/assault rifle… but take a look at the video above, and in the last 60 seconds you’ll see this thing cut through a watermelon faster than those crazy frat guys from my college days who once brought a melon to a party already pre-loaded with vodka. (Oh wait, I was one of those guys). That was me. In other words, probably anything could be mounted on that turret, in the right (wrong?) hands.

The whole thing is controlled by remote control, with the operator a “safe distance” away, watching the action on a monitor via a Wireless Infra-Red Night Vision Barrel-Mounted Camera Damn, that just sounds cool. The Mega Hurtz is geared towards SWAT Teams, search and rescue operations and other first responders, and related private security firms to take personnel “out of the line of fire and out of harm’s way.” I believe it.

[ARTICLE & PHOTOS] Friday Facts: Best Military Inventions of the Year

The following are some of 2010’s best inventions for the military.

A Safer, More Stable Explosive
A new TNT alternative, IMX-101, (which stands for Insensitive Munitions Explosive 101) will start being put into service as early as 2011 as TNT supplies are steadily phased out over the next 10 years. Developed by BAE Systems (wiki), it has the same power as TNT but is significantly more stable – IMX-101 is far less likely to explode if hit by an IED or a bullet (especially helpful as TNT is a favorite target for enemy attacks). Nor will IMX-101 accidentally explode in fires. As a result of its stability, more of the new explosive can also be stacked in the same building while in storage and at closer distances to troops. At $8 a pound, IMX-101 is more expensive than TNT, at $6 per pound, but it is worth the price for the safety of American troops.

Hypersonic Weapons
The Boeing X-51A WaveRider was successfully tested this year. Using scramjet technology, the aircraft can travel at Mach 6 (approximately 4,000 miles per hour). Part of the U.S.’s Prompt Global Strike initiative, the goal is to be able to conduct a precision strike on any part of the world within one hour. The WaveRider represents good progress: it can travel can astonishing 600 miles in 10 minutes.

In flight demonstrations, the X-51 is carried by a B-52 to an altitude of about 50,000 feet and then released over the Pacific Ocean. The X-51 is initially propelled by a solid rocket booster to approximately Mach 4.5 before the booster is jettisoned. Then the aircraft’s scramjet takes over and accelerates it to a top flight speed approaching Mach 6.

X-Flex Blast Protection Wallpaper

Wallpaper doesn’t sound all that exciting – unless you’re referring to X-Flex that is. When affixed in combination to the ceiling, floor, and walls, the reinforced wallpaper can make a building’s walls far stronger, providing protection from explosive blasts from the outside. The material allows walls to bend and then reform after a blast and prevents shock waves from passing through. The protective wallpaper, an advanced composite film tape similar to Kevlar, is now being considered for use by American bases overseas.

The Real-Life Iron Man Suit

Developed by Salt Lake City–based Raytheon Sarcos, the XOS-2 exoskeleton can give even the puniest weakling superhuman strength. It has an impressive 17:1 lifting ratio, meaning that someone who lifts 170 lbs. with the suit feels like they are only lifting 10 lbs. (As a result, someone wearing the suit can lift 200 lbs. worth of weight several hundred times without tiring). The company hopes to market the special Superman suit to the military, allowing soldiers in combat situations to easily lift heavy ordnance or other equipment. There are currently two versions: a combat version and a logistics version. The difference is that the combat version is not a weapons platform as some may think, but rather has robotic attachments for only the legs to assist in long-distance marches while carrying heavy equipment. The XOS-2 reportedly is lighter, faster, and stronger than the original version that came out a few years ago, yet it requires 50 percent less power. However, the suit’s mobility remains limited by the fact that it is still tethered to a power source, but the designers say the goal for the next version of the suit is to reduce the power requirements to 20 percent of the original, fed from an onboard battery pack.