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Robot Collects Storm Data During Hurricane Isaac
9/6/2012

A graphic shows wind speed data from Hurricane Isaac recorded by a Wave Glider robot in the Gulf of Mexico during the storm. The Wave Glider, developed by Liquid Robotics and launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a seven-foot-long surfboard with a solar-powered boat propulsion system and sensors to collect oceanographic and weather data. (Source: Liquid Robotics)
A graphic shows wind speed data from Hurricane Isaac recorded by a Wave Glider robot in the Gulf of Mexico during the storm. The Wave Glider, developed by Liquid Robotics and launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a seven-foot-long surfboard with a solar-powered boat propulsion system and sensors to collect oceanographic and weather data.
(Source: Liquid Robotics)

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Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Active tracking system
Jack Rupert, PE   9/7/2012 2:20:46 PM
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Design Engineer - While I am generally the first guy want to keep the government out, I wonder if this is one of the few instances where goverment involvement is a good thing.  The primary goal of this is security (from the weather in this case), which is one of the functions of government.

Design Engineer
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Iron
Re: Active tracking system
Design Engineer   9/7/2012 2:43:38 PM
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Jack,

You are correct, this probably would fall into a catagory of projects in which the government ought to be involved.  The question in my mind is "Can a body that changes composition every two years keep the continuity required for a project that might go on for twenty years?".  The record to date is not encouraging without an outside "special interest" group to keep them on point.

TJ McDermott
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Using the correct word
TJ McDermott   9/8/2012 10:45:19 PM
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Wouldn't it be more accurate to call this device an automaton?  The word robot implies a somewhat human shape.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Using the correct word
Ann R. Thryft   9/10/2012 12:36:11 PM
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TJ, the term "robot" doesn't necessarily imply that it looks like a human, although early robots did. DN did a survey on this subject, asking our Systems & Product Design Engineering and Automation & Control Engineering groups on LinkedIn "Should Robots Look Like People or Machines?" Here are the results:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1381&doc_id=237885

Zippy
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Re: Active tracking system
Zippy   9/10/2012 2:57:36 PM
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Design engineer, I am puzzled by your comment that the government is less capable of maintaining a long-term program than private enterprise.  NASA has maintained the Voyager program since 1977!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Using the correct word
Ann R. Thryft   9/11/2012 12:16:26 PM
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General dictionaries are good for defining broad, commonly used vocabulary terms, but not at all useful for fast-moving, highly specialized fields like science and technology. Wikipedia is usually a lot more reliable. Here's what it says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot

William K.
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Re: Using the correct word
William K.   9/16/2012 4:56:19 AM
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Ann is certainly correct. Industrial robots don't look at all human, at least most of them don't. With robotics, the name follows the functionality rather than the appearance. An automaton might be a better term for something designed to have somewhat of a human appearance, actualy, and that is closer to the roots of the word.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Using the correct word
Ann R. Thryft   9/17/2012 12:11:14 PM
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Thanks, William, for the industrial robot example. I didn't think of them in terms of appearance. One of the most interesting things to me about the definition cited in Wikipedia--as well as the definitions of robotics engineers--isn't what a robot looks like, but the fact that it doesn't have to be autonomous. Yet because of growing up with science fiction, I guess, many of us tend to assume that autonomy is part of the definition. A robot does have to perform tasks automatically, but that can be as part of a larger control system, such as found in industrial contexts, where controls are external to the robot. Most of the robots I write about are either remote-controlled (RC) or autonomous, and some can operate in both modes.

William K.
User Rank
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Re: Using the correct word
William K.   9/17/2012 10:13:02 PM
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Almost all of the robots that I have worked with have been industrial robots, the closest times that they get to being autonomous are when they decide how to slow down for a direction change, and, for a select few, when they get to push untilo a specified force level is obtained. A fully autonomous industrial robot would be both scary and dangerous, since they are not very much aware of their surroundings.

And I thought that the word "robot" came from Remote Operation By OThers. Not sure where I read that, or if the source was reliable. 

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