These days, robots come in every shape and size -- and even change shape -- for a wide range of purposes, from helping autistic kids to swarming into a sensor network in a war zone. Some robots are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, while others are more than two stories tall.
Zeno helps diagnose autism and can also provide therapy to autistic kids. Soldiers are now aided by a carrier robot that helps with the growing burden of equipment that they need in combat.
There's a stainless-steel robot that helps in drug research, and Japanís growing elder population has prompted the development of a wide range of helper robots for hospitals and home care. One will wash your hair, some will dispense your medications, another will communicate with your doctor.
Click on the photo below to see just how advanced these bots have become.
The RI-MAN was designed to look after the elderly. It was specifically engineered to lift and carry humans. The 5-ft, 220-lb RI-MAN includes sensors that allow it to see, hear, touch, and smell. (Source: Bio-Mimetic Control Research Center)
The Kuratas robot from Suidobashi Heavy Industry has a smile detection mode to fire the BB gun. The female model demonstrating it cracked up and couldn't stop smiling, it was like the ED-209 blazing away at the corporate exec in Robocop.
The danger of the BB spewing robot depends a whole lot on the velocity of the BBs. At 100FPS they would still be an eye hazard, and at lesser speeds they would more likely be a tripping hazard. But at a thousand feet per second they can start to do real damage. After all E= MV**2
Rob, at the higher velocities a round object creates a shock wave that also rips tissue apart in an expanding cone shape. Of course the small mass of the .177 cal BBs delivers a lot less energy than the larger calibers, but consider that the standard NATO issue was .222 caliber for many years. Of course, that is a lot more mass, but those are serious military bullets designed to do lots of damage. The one "nicer" thing about BBs is that they don't tumble as they pass through. But at higher velocities they can still make a nasty mess.
While servant and helper robots are certainly able to be a real benefit, there is an area for great caution, which is outside interference. Based on my daily getting attempts to hijack my computer for unknown purposes it is clear that lots of individuals would cause all kinds of problems if they were allowed to get through. And we just know that most of these will have wireless communications added if they don't already have it. And we also know that there is no such thing as truely secure wireless communication, at least not for more than a few hours. So there certainly needs to be some reliable manual non-hackable means to switch them off.
And for that warfighter robot shooting "harmless BBs", they may not hurt much at 100 FPS, but that same BB at 1500 FPS or more is quite deadly. And at the military velocity of about 2500FPS they are even more dangerous. Note that I am only challenging the description, not the product. BUt a relatively slow moving large robot just does not seem to me to be very invincable. I could easily knock it out with an ordinary car. One hit at 65MPH and the robot is damaged. And a radio controlled car is current technology.
Quite a few years ago I designed a robot system to load a connecting rod trim press. The operation was one of the more dangerous, since sometimes it took both hands to place the part correctly in the trim die. The robot and the press controllers did need to handshake, which was in this case set s of contacts connected to digital inputs. Thee were two in each direction, one being a request for motion and the other being a request for the other to wait. The system worked quite well, and it was possibly the most welcomed of any system that I have created. The press operators loved it, the safety team loved it, the managers loved it because it increased production, and the union loved it because it simply moved the operators job out of the danger zone. The operator was assigned to place the con-rods onto a conveyer inswtead of placing them into the trim die.
Thanks Bobjengr. You can bet we'll see these robots show up in the U.S. if they're successful in Japan. And they'll show up for the same reason robots are successful in industry -- they reduce labor costs.
Yes, Ralphy Boy, the malfunction of a medical robot -- whether it's one that cares for patents or one that assists in operations -- is not a pleasant thought. Robot malfunction a disturbing enough that it has been depicted in numerous movies.
Thank you Rob for the great slide show. Robotic systems seem to be more and more life-like as the years go by. I am surprised at how the Japanese have chosen to investigate usage of the "bots" relative to their ageing population. My father is in an assisted living complex and I can certainly see applications in that facility especially for mundane tasks such as picking up and delivering laundry, bringing meals, possibly in bringing medications, etc etc. I feel quite confident that this important technology will eventually be applied in that fashion here in the "states". Again, excellent slide show.
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