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Slideshow: Robot Salamanders, Snakes & Bugs; Creepy Defined

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Elizabeth M
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Useful form factors
Elizabeth M   2/4/2014 8:35:20 AM
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Well given my distate for creepy crawlies like snakes and bugs, some of these robots could give me nightmares, Ann. But I think what you show here is how useful the snake- or bug-like form factor is as a basis for robot designs, given the ability to scuttle and wriggle into places that are difficult for humans. If we look at the development of robots as aimed at not replacing humans in their capability but doing things humans can't do, these are interesting examples of using natural influences to create robots that can achieve this goal.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/4/2014 11:50:23 AM
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Elizabeth, that scarab is almost too creepy for me to look at, especially in the video: it's too much like spiders, which totally freak me out. But I like snakes and salamanders and am fascinated by bugs in general, as many of us are.

Daniyal_Ali
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Biobotic Insects
Daniyal_Ali   2/4/2014 11:31:31 PM
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Great Slideshow Ann. I loved the Bio-Cleaner II.
Along the same lines, "Biobotic Insects" is also an interesting topic. These insects can even go to places these robotic insects cannot reach, hence leading to collection of vital information.
Creating a wireless biological interface with the creepy crawlers can help us enhance our data collection and security. As these crawlers can infiltrate very small spaces and help us collect useful information during natural disasters like Earthquake.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Biobotic Insects
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 11:31:42 AM
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Daniyal_Ali, thanks for that term. I knew wireless biological interfaces had been created for rats and mice, but not for bugs. Is this a WIP or has it already been achieved?

Daniyal_Ali
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Re: Biobotic Insects
Daniyal_Ali   2/5/2014 12:16:47 PM
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There is still a lot to do Ann.
Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an Assistant Professor at Cornell University did try it on the cockroaches back in 2012. I know it sounds creepy but they were able to steer the roaches along a curved line by embedding a wireless transceiver on each roach.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Biobotic Insects
Ann R. Thryft   2/7/2014 11:24:19 AM
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Daniyal_Ali, thanks for the updated info. I think I read about the interfaced cockroaches in 2012, but hadn't seen anything since. Creepy, yes (both the bugs and the idea of interfacing to them) but also fascinating.

Cadman-LT
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Re: Useful form factors
Cadman-LT   2/5/2014 3:37:31 AM
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Ann, great article as always. I agree ever since The Mummy scarabs creep me out. I hate spiders and snakes. Snakes really bother me. I like most reptiles and amphibians...just not snakes. It might be the fact that certain ones can kill me...not sure.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 1:14:56 PM
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Thanks, Cadman-LT. Funny, I don't remember the scarab you mention in The Mummy film. I do remember not being able to watch certain parts of the LOR and Hobbit movies because of the huge spiders. Ecchh. My husband tells me when to close my eyes and then when it's safe to look.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Useful form factors
Elizabeth M   2/5/2014 5:22:59 AM
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I share your intense dislike of spiders, as any of my friends who have witnessed me scream like a little girl when I come across a particularly big one can attest! The fact that they robots can provide such a visceral reaction is a credit to the designers at how well they have mimicked the real-life model for them. I can't say I share your fascination with snakes, but salamanders and especially Gecko lizards are OK in my book.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 11:36:44 AM
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Elizabeth, I react to big spiders like you do. Don't ever go to the tropics! There are major scenes in some of my favorite movies I can't watch because of this. Interestingly, this common fear of bugs and especially spiders used to be better understood, I think. Once upon a time, only horror movies featured huge bugs. Now it's more commonplace to see pictures of same all over.

etmax
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Re: Useful form factors
etmax   2/5/2014 6:40:37 PM
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At the risk of totally freaking you out, we have a range of spiders from tiny and very deadly to large and hairy but not so deadly, and when the 3-4" sized ones come into the house we let them run around for a few days to clean out all the smaller ones, as well as the thumb sized cockroaches that occasionally wander in, then put them out. My wife used to squeal when she saw a spider but now is with me on tolerating these house keepers.

I don't have a great love for spiders, just a fascination and respect for their position in the food web (eat more mosquitoes and flies than fly spray kills)

I caught a lizard once which was about 2 metres long for a photo and let go. Does that come under "gecko lizard" :-)

When I was about 13 a neighbour called me over because there was a poisonous snake (about 7th most poisonous in the world) in their livingroom, so I went over and helped with the eviction notice :-)

And one more freaky thing :-) when I was about 10 I had a fascination with these 2" long scorpions I found so I caught a couple to take home and study.

So a few scarabs (even after "The Mummy") don't tend to phase me.

No animals were harmed in the writing of this totally true post.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/7/2014 11:25:14 AM
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etmax, I am just fine with spiders outdoors: I'm well aware of their importance in the ecosystem. Same goes for all other bugs. I just don't want them inside my house.

etmax
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Re: Useful form factors
etmax   2/7/2014 7:25:30 PM
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Of course, I do understand that and would not have thought differntlty of you. I merely meant that I give them a lot of leeway because of that, and control my natural fear. I'm sure my heartrate increases when I pick up a 4" spider and put it outside after it's been hanging above my head for a few days, but it's a measured response and I am getting more used to it. I still remember the first time when my brother told me as a kid that I should treat them gently and put them out and I let one walk on my hand and it ran up my arm towards my neck but then stopped. Real scary moment, but I held my cool. I must apologise for my larrikin nature, I enjoy freaking people out with creepy crawly stories, but they are all true.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/10/2014 10:24:04 PM
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etmax, no need to apologize for your sense of humore. But you and I live on very different planets when it comes to spiders. Like others with arachnophobia, I have the same response to spiders, especially big ones, that I would to a venomous snake, and it's entirely outside my control.

etmax
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Re: Useful form factors
etmax   2/10/2014 11:47:39 PM
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Thanks, I do appreciate the difficulty people have with phobias, they are at a deeply subconscious level and I understand that you might be paralysed by those fears, I feel for those that can't control it. My GLW (that's good lady wife :-)  and I went on a cruise to Vanuatu and decided to do a bit of scuba diving (neither of us had tried it before) and she had to give it up because she couldn't overcome the fear of drowning when she went down. I felt bad for her because she so wanted to do it. Never mind, we are all lucky enough to be able choose a living location that avoids our fears.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/11/2014 10:36:07 AM
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etmax, I understand your wife's phobia. I don't have that one, but I used to be terrified of heights. You won't find me sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon or driving a couple of inches from the edge of a narrow mountain road next to a cliff. For some reason, though, the fear is now a lot less intense than it used to be. Phobias can be really tough to deal with.

a.saji
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Re: Useful form factors
a.saji   2/11/2014 12:08:02 AM
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@Ann: Yes they are scary indeed. Some do have very dangerous side effects where as some do look scary for their size itself.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/11/2014 10:41:42 AM
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Good point, a.saji--some spiders, usually the tinier ones, are lethally poisonous.



etmax
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Re: Useful form factors
etmax   2/5/2014 5:47:37 PM
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Hi Ann, fantastic article, thanks. I am rather impressed by the out of the box thinking to make it flip back onto its feet although my guess is that only works on hard surfaces. It seems to use largely cam driven technology for the legs but what may come as a surprise to many rather large animals use this open loop control of their legs. I once watched a documentary on Galapagos and was amazed to see that the iguanas seem to have an almost terrain independant program for their legs which looks really weird when there's a rock under one of them.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/6/2014 6:53:26 PM
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etmax, I'll bet the flip ability must be restricted to hard surfaces, too. And I share your admiration of the designers' thought processes. If I liked bugs, I'd want one of theirs. They've got other designs besides the scarab.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/6/2014 6:54:44 PM
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etmax, interesting observation about iguana locomotion--I've noticed how weird their legs look when moving, but didn't know the mechanics behind it. Thanks for that.





Cadman-LT
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Re: Useful form factors
Cadman-LT   2/5/2014 3:48:14 AM
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Elizabeth, great point. These new robots are designed to do what we can't do. They have been working on the snake ones for years to crawl in and look to check on survivors. It's a good thing. I still remember the one they used on.....was it 3 mile Island? They had to use a remote controlled robot for that. As creepy as they might get...so long as they are used for good things....I'm ok with it.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Useful form factors
Elizabeth M   2/5/2014 5:33:28 AM
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Thanks, Cadman-LT. This is sort of the argument I use when people start to panic about whether robots will "replace" humans. I think in some cases of course this can be true--that robots can do the jobs humans traditionally have done and therefore act as replacements. But in some ways what I think is more useful is when robots, like many of the ones in this slideshow, do things humans can't do and thus enhance our abilities rather than replace them.

William K.
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Re: Useful form factors
William K.   2/5/2014 11:47:05 AM
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This was a very interesting slideshow, probably one of the most interesting ones.

Certainly some of the robots would replace humans for tasks that a human would not survive, and that includes firefighting and really dangerous things like working in high radio activity areas. 

The self-powering pollution devouring robot is another example in that probaly humans should avoid areas with heavy metal pollution. But it may have unsuspected secondary results, since it produces it's own power, it may wander out of control, which could certainly lead to some interesting consequences.

That robot snake spouting the 5KW laser beam would certainly be a good subject for a few scince fiction movies or stories, although in reality it probably has a whole lot of support structure that we didn't see in the slide. 5Kw out implies 50Kw into the laser, and that kind of power is not likely to be part of a small robot creature. But it certainly would have some use in reacue applications.

Thanks for the really neat posting.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Useful form factors
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 1:10:00 PM
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Glad you enjoyed it William. I had a similar reaction when I first saw the laser beam-wielding snake: movie!

etmax
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Re: Useful form factors
etmax   2/5/2014 6:12:14 PM
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Hi Elizabeth, I don't think panic should ever be a part of the equation but I think mechanisation/automation in general is a bigger threat than robotics perse'.

I mean things like self serve registers where one "supervisor" monitors 6-8 self checkouts really make it hard for early school leavers and uni students.


I only hope over time that they prove unprofitable for them.

Battar
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Self destruct
Battar   2/5/2014 9:59:17 AM
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If I were asked to design robots whose goal was to get themselves destroyed by human intervention the first time they showed up in a dim light, these robots are what they would look like.

They might be useful for drawing enemy fire and exposing snipers, though.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self destruct
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 11:39:15 AM
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Battar, thanks for the laugh: you've got a point.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Self destruct
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   2/5/2014 11:48:30 AM
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EXACTLY !!   While I always can envision and appreciate the use-case for technology applications (i.e., snakes for Search & Rescue) I'm struggling to see the value-added of the HEXBUG Scarab. Yes, Cool, for an 8 year-old boy; but imagine his disappointment when Mommy smashes it with a broom!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self destruct
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 1:11:28 PM
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Jim, I can't imagine letting that scarab robot into my house. A broom? More likely a shovel.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Self destruct
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   2/5/2014 2:03:32 PM
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( * laughing! * )

I just don't keep my Shovel in the Pantry!

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self destruct
Ann R. Thryft   2/5/2014 2:14:31 PM
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Jim, I live in a large cabin in a rural environment. My "pantry" is a few sturdy old bookshelves in the entry room/mudroom/laundry room/tools-and-firewood-storage room. In winter there are two shovels by the front door (next to the full-body rainslickers) for those sudden, torrential rainstorms we sometimes get in the mountains that mean an instant need for mud-and-flood control. They're also there for fending off the occasional aggressive raccoon or skunk (you'd be surprised...), and the tarantulas before we plugged all the holes. So all I'd have to do is step from the heated living space to the unheated entry room and grab a shovel. And I would if I saw that thing in my house.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Self destruct
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   2/5/2014 4:17:23 PM
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Wow! ( STILL Laughing ! )

You are a regular Lady Daniel Boone!  I'm trying to picture you with a  'coonskin cap.

After reading and corroborating with you on advance technology and Additive Mfg'g   processes for over two years, you think you know a person !  I had no idea !!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self destruct
Ann R. Thryft   2/6/2014 12:52:13 PM
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Jim, thanks for the (I think) compliment. I had a lot of wild and crazy adventures in my youth. So bashing spiders with a shovel hardly qualifies. But I don't wear a coonskin cap :) And with all due respect, I don't assume I know someone until I've spent a lot of time with them, in person. Although you may have had tongue in cheek on that one.

William K.
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Re: Self destruct. The attack of the scarab beetles.
William K.   2/5/2014 4:25:10 PM
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I can imagine an army of those bugs, some equipped with cameras and others with an explosive charge, all being used by law enforcement in some hostage situation. A few of those little dudes exploding could render an armed thug unable to do anything, which is all that would be needed. And who would be afraid of a roach or beetle? They would be ignored. In addition, even if they were just camera equiped they could give the police an upper hand over the bad guys. And that is just one possible use. The beauty of those little things is that they would probably be quite cheap.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self destruct. The attack of the scarab beetles.
Ann R. Thryft   2/6/2014 12:54:12 PM
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William, you sure do come up with a lot of sci-fi/action movie scenarios.



William K.
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Re: Self destruct. The attack of the scarab beetles.
William K.   2/6/2014 8:23:12 PM
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Ann, all of those ideas come from considering the secondary and tertiary effects of various advances and potential advances. And it is certainly vital to consider the secondary effects of the things that we do, you know. 

William K.
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Re: Self destruct. The attack of the scarab beetles.
William K.   2/6/2014 8:56:01 PM
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Ann, Consider the "hound" robots in the book, and the movie, I guess, "Fahrenheight 451".Every bit of that technology is available today, but fortunately for all of us it is not put into that kind of package. We should b very greatful for that.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self destruct. The attack of the scarab beetles.
Ann R. Thryft   2/7/2014 11:26:34 AM
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William, I'd forgotten about the Hounds in F451--probably on purpose. I do remember them now and think they were much scarier back then when we didn't have the imagery we do now to inspire our reading, before the high-quality SFX we get now in sci-fi movies. I'm very grateful they're not actualized!



bobjengr
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CREEPY DEFINED
bobjengr   2/5/2014 4:32:02 PM
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Agreed--this is a great slide show Ann.  The HEXABUG Scarab reminds me of one scene in the "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise is in the tub trying to avoid detection from the "bots".  They were self-powered recon devices, completely expendable, but useful in difficult situations.  I think this slide show indicates the considerable advances in robotic technology with a definite focus on helping instead of hurting. It will be fascinating when one of these designs is used in a commercial fashion to perform dangerous jobs and possibly saving lives. 

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: CREEPY DEFINED
Ann R. Thryft   2/6/2014 1:00:40 PM
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bobjengr, you *would* have to remind me of that scene in Minority Report! Those bots gave me the creeps, too.



 

Charles Murray
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Re: CREEPY DEFINED
Charles Murray   2/6/2014 6:46:56 PM
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Creepy, yes, but you have to admit that scene in Minority Report was cool.

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