The iRobot 510 PackBot was the first robot to provide glimpses inside the reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake. Traveling at up to 5.8mph, it climbs stairs, rolls over rubble, and navigates narrow passages. It weighs 24 pounds without batteries and relays real-time video, audio, and other sensory information, including GPS, compass, inclinometer, and accelerometer data. (Source: iRobot)
David, thanks for clarifying your comment. Yes, iRobot makes a lot more than we could show, including that little 110 you linked to. The Surveyor you linked to is a different robot from the iRobot 510--thanks for that info. I'm especially interested in it since it's open source. Also, I noticed when putting this slideshow together that some of these models from different manufacturers built for the same purposes look a lot alike and share many very similar features and specs.
I look forward to the search and rescue slide show. From this slide show, it looks like the future is here. Are these developments recent? These robots seemed advanced way beyond the experimental stages. Is the military driving these developments? Or is it vendors that have a sufficient market to invest in this complexity?
I should have been more specific also on which iRobot image I was referring to. I was referring to the last image (#14). That is the one that looks like the Surveyor. The 110 FirstLook was the closest I found on the iRobot site looking for a similar robot. It is a pretty cool little guy. I like the Recon Scout Throwbot shown because it a different style (though the tail did make it a little less cool, though easier to try to replicate at home).
Beth, always appreciate your insights. I think the future of war is pretty clear at least from the US persepctive. It's all a big video game. As the old quote goes, "He who dies with the most toys - wins!"
Just wondering.... I noticed that some of these are clearly experimental while others say that they are in use in Iraq or other tactical locations. Are those in use actual "production run" type robots or are they more of an experimental variety in which the manufacturer gave a couple to the goverment as a means of getting feedback from a real-life application?
I have design many different circuits for military applications and especially enjoy the ones that help keep solider safe like these robots. It is always interesting to see the different styles, uses and abilities of robots. The mental picture I now get when I hear the word robot looks nothing like it did when I was a child.
I often wondered that if we ever had a true robotic war (only robot against robot) and one side "wins", destroyed the other side's robots, would the loser surrender? Or would the loser continue to fight with the old life-costing methods.
Are these robots under direct radio control, or are they at least partly autonomous?
Armed autonomous robots present serious ethical and political problems, especially if they make "mistakes" and harm non-enemies or destroy civilian property. Who is responsible for such war crimes? Or do we just write them off as "Well, it's only a robot"?
I doubt such a conflict would be strictly robot-versus-robot. Firstly because most recent wars have pitted a technically advanced country against a much less advanced enemy. Second, either side's robots would target the enemy's people and cities rather than robots, except when the enemy robot blocked its mission.
Compare this with aerial warfare, say in WWII. The air forces were out to bomb the opponent's cities and factories. They engaged enemy aircraft mainly when they were sent up as interceptors.
Ann, your comment about soliders using video games to train for war is spot on, but so is your comment about people who kill doing the same. I read just last week that the guy responsible for that horrible massacre in Norway sharpened his aim by playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for hours on end. Now the scary thing is my 14-year old plays that game (I caved under pressure after months of holding off) as do all of his friends.
Everyone has had the experience of trying to scrape the last of the peanut butter or mayonnaise from the bottom of a glass jar without getting your hand sticky. Inventor Ron Jidmar thinks he has a solution to all of that nonsense with a flexible jar design that can be squeezed with one hand to lift contents from the bottom to the top of a jar or container, leaving the other hand free to scoop the contents out cleanly.
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