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Slideshow: Nautical Robots Rule the Waves
6/25/2012

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Festo's AquaPenguin is one of many projects the company has pursued under its Bionic Learning Network. The network's purpose is to use the energy-efficient principles already found in nature and adapt them to automation technology. The AquaPenguin is an autonomous underwater vehicle with penguin-inspired hydrodynamic body contours. Equipped with a 3D sonar system, like that of dolphins, it can communicate with its surroundings and other AquaPenguins, independently orient itself, and navigate. Its torso, head, and tail sections can move in all directions for maneuvering in cramped areas, letting it turn on a dime and swim backwards.   (Source: Festo)
Festo's AquaPenguin is one of many projects the company has pursued under its Bionic Learning Network. The network's purpose is to use the energy-efficient principles already found in nature and adapt them to automation technology. The AquaPenguin is an autonomous underwater vehicle with penguin-inspired hydrodynamic body contours. Equipped with a 3D sonar system, like that of dolphins, it can communicate with its surroundings and other AquaPenguins, independently orient itself, and navigate. Its torso, head, and tail sections can move in all directions for maneuvering in cramped areas, letting it turn on a dime and swim backwards.
(Source: Festo)

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Rob Spiegel
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What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2012 12:06:57 PM
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Nice selection of water-based robots, Ann. My favorite is the one you featured in an earlier article -- the humanoid fire fighter.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2012 12:43:44 PM
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Thanks, Rob. I prefer the jellyfish and penguin robots over the humanoid ones.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2012 2:32:21 PM
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Yes, they're all interesting. Robotics seems to have taken a major leap in the past few years. Is there anything in particular that is fueling all of this development, Ann?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2012 2:50:55 PM
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I agree, it's amazing what's going on in robot R&D and also production, in terms of both breadth and depth. A lot of cross-pollination will be expanded because of open-source ROS, also. I think the development is spiking for several interrelated reasons. The military and industrial robot makers have been working on robotics independently for some time. Cross-pollination has occurred more with more university department efforts, especially as those become funded by government and (primarily) military budgets. But universities have their own cross-pollination effects, both within and between/among them. So now they're also working on medical robots and other types. Meanwhile, independent robot manufacturers are pursuing specialized paths (service 'bots for instance), sometimes with military and/industrial partners. Then there are also student competitions that have gotten to be a big deal. I think all of these are coming together.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2012 2:54:47 PM
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Thanks Ann. When it comes to the R&D on robotics in the military and universities, is there a mechanism to share the technology developments with industry? I would guess some of the R&D from the military is classified. But is there also some technology transfer to industry?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2012 3:03:01 PM
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Rob, I think that's a question that only the military can answer, if they would, or their subcontractors. But I doubt if either would. I'd guess that such transfer may occur, as it does with any other military subcontractor, to the robot companies developing machines with military funds, such as Boston Dynamics. From my previous experience covering military technology, there's no global mechanism per se: it occurs on a case by case basis.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/26/2012 12:57:03 PM
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Ann, it would be wonderful to see the military engage in formal tech transfer programs like the national labs do. The labs have programs to send their R&D out to start-ups -- usually start-ups runs by former lab researchers. It's a great idea to make the taxpayer-financed research available to entrepreneurs. Robotics looks like a perfect candidate for tech transfer.

vguinnane
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Re: What a variety of water robots
vguinnane   7/30/2013 11:18:04 AM
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Hi Bob,

I did a quick search on the Internet (formerly DARPA-Net):

·         Technology Transfer | U.S. Army Research Laboratory

www.arl.army.mil › Home › Business

Technology Transfer. ARL's Technology Transfer program has four purposes: Promotes and facilitates the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge and ...

·         VII.B.3. Army Domestic Technology Transfer (ADTT) Program

www.fas.org/man/dod-101/army/docs/astmp/c7/P7B3.htm

3. Army Domestic Technology Transfer (ADTT) Program. There is a long history of technology transfer from in-house Army R&D to commercial applications.

·         DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

www.darpa.mil

Commissions advanced research for DoD. It was founded in response to the surprise Sputnik launch in 1958 and fathered the Internet somewhere along the way. Site ...

 

I did a quick search on darpa.mil for "commercial technology transfer".  The first hit was Small Business Technology Transfer.

Check it out!

Interesting article Ann!

Vince

gsmith120
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Re: What a variety of water robots
gsmith120   6/25/2012 7:49:18 PM
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Back in tec school many years ago robotics was really growing but all of a sudden it seem like there wasn't much interest.  I'm glad to read and see all the new projects.  I really like the jelly fish.  I would be most interested in seeing an underwater demo, especially the one like Hawkes Remotes U-Series ROV. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/26/2012 1:06:13 PM
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I agree, Gsmith120. Lately there seems to be a renaissance in robotics development. Most of the big leaps seem to be coming from the military. That's not surprising given the military budget.

notarboca
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Re: What a variety of water robots
notarboca   6/26/2012 4:42:30 AM
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Ann, I too prefer the robots that mimic the natural sea creatures.  There is just something beautiful in a design that can reproduce nature's functionality, particularly in the sea.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Beth Stackpole   6/26/2012 6:50:19 AM
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I agree, Ann. The penguin and jellyfish robots are so impressive in that they blend in with the environment and obviously incorporate a lot of biomimicky thinking in their design. Those were the ones that blew me away in this slide show. Not sure how functional they are in terms of their role, but from a design standpoint, a home run in my book.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2012 1:03:29 PM
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Beth. when I looked at the details--as much as Festo will give--of their jellyfish and penguin robots I was stunned at the quality of the design. Perhaps I shouldn't have been: Festo is known for quality and clearly good design is required for underwater robots, especially autonomous ones. Their utility, at least for surveillance-type apps, seems pretty clear.

Island_Al
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Island_Al   12/6/2012 12:20:15 PM
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I just wonder how long it will before the humanoid firefighter will be carrying a weapon instead of a fire hose?

 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   12/12/2012 5:33:38 PM
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Island_Al, I would guess the humanoid firefighter is already carrying a weapon. It was probably designed to carry a weapon. The firehose was likely an afterthought.

Charles Murray
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Wave Glider
Charles Murray   6/25/2012 7:12:41 PM
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Ann, I'm amazed that the Wave Gliders have logged as many miles as they apparently have. With the sensors sticking up above the board that way, I'm surpised they don't get damaged.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Wave Glider
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2012 12:59:32 PM
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Chuck, I agree--they look so vulnerable, yet are surprisingly rugged. In fact, Liquid Robotics has just formed a separate joint venture company with Schlumberger for oil & gas exploration and production services: http://liquidr.com/files/2012/06/Schlumberger_LiquidRobotics_Joint_Venture.pdf

Charles Murray
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Re: Wave Glider
Charles Murray   6/26/2012 7:13:24 PM
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Cool. I wonder what Wave Glider's Role would be in oil and gas.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Wave Glider
Ann R. Thryft   6/27/2012 1:11:42 PM
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According to that press release, the Wave Gliders will be aimed at lowering the cost and risks of seismic, subsea and environmental monitoring, tasks it's already done in those and other situations.

Battar
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Pool robots
Battar   6/26/2012 9:16:06 AM
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Further down the scale are the awimming pool cleaning robots which sweep and vacuum the bottom of your swimming pool (if you're lucky enough to have one...). Designing a robot that can work underwater is not trivial - getting rid of excess heat is a problem, you can't expose a heatsink to the water because it will suffer galvanic corrosion. Keeping water out is another problem, when you have moving or rotating parts passing through a watertight enclosure.

Redding
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Too Real?
Redding   12/6/2012 12:49:16 PM
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I would sure like to see a Great White get ahold of Aqua-Penguin! I wonder if they thought of this possibility and have some sort of deterrent?

-Ken

 

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