The Avatar II is a remote-controlled tactical robot with a 300m (328 yards) operating range for first responders and SWAT teams. It includes a front-mounted drive camera, a high-intensity front headlight, an infrared light, a 360-degree pan-tilt-zoom camera, and a composite chassis that's resistant to shock and water. Front and rear flippers help it climb stairs at inclines of up to 60 degrees and right itself if turned upside down. It's also got secure WiFi for live video and audio transmission, as well as two-way audio operation and video and audio recording capability. Separate wireless channels let operators control multiple robots simultaneously. The Avatar II weighs 25 lb (11.34 kg) and measures 24.41 inches (62 cm) by 15.35 inches (39 cm) by 6.14 inches (15.6 cm). (Source: Robotex)
Even in the consumer world the model aircraft electronics seem to double in performance every year. Brushless motors are now common, lithium battries weigh less than the motor and digital radios are about the size of a matchbook. The military deserves some credit for dreaming up the idea of using hobbyist technology.
Nadine and Elizabeth, glad you liked the slideshow. Like Nadine, I think the Nighthawk is kinda cute, too. Looking like an actual (if antique) plane, it's got a bit more personality than the quadrocopters that seem to dominate flying robots right now.
It's quite interesting to see the latest and greatest in robots from the military, which as usual is on the bleeding edge in terms of sophistication and functionality. I'm not sure if these types of robots will ever replace human activity but they certainly make some tasks safer for military personnel and enhance their capability.
The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Dr. Kiyoshi Mabuchi and his team members for their work measuring the slipperiness of banana peels. Turns out they're slipperier with the yellow side up.
Many scientists have been working battery-free ways to power wearable electronics that can replace bulky battery packs, particularly through the use of energy-harvesting materials. Now a team of researchers in China have upped the game by developing a lightweight and flexible solar cell that can be woven into two-way energy-harvesting fabric.
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