MIT researchers have created a prototype of a wearable sensor that can create maps of a person’s environment on the fly as they move through it. Researchers from the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which based the technology on a previously designed robotic platform, envision emergency responders using the device to navigate disaster sites. (Source: MIT)
Given what we've all witnessed these last few days with Hurricane Sandy, it really turns a spotlight on the utility of this kind of technology to aid in disaster relief efforts. Whether it's hurricanes or earthquakes or even mine disasters, anything to help rescuers cue in on potential victims faster and help save lives is a bonus.
Beth, how true. I could imagine expanding and scaling this technology to other "labyrinthine" environments. This could include mining operations, automated warehousing applications, cave mapping, outdoors search and resue operations, firefighting, maybe even archaelogical sites as well. Pretty cool development.
I agree, Beth, I find this type of technology particularly interesting. Not only will it advance robotics development, allowing machines to sense their environment and become more intuitive, it will help people in these types of disaster-relief scenarios as well. It's always exciting to see technology that can actually make a difference in very real-world situations, particularly after something like Hurricane Sandy happens.
Beth, you are right. Such remote camera devices are very useful in disaster areas, where human interventions are not possible. I think during the tsunami disaster in Japan, they had some a similar technology (robots with camera) for monitoring atomic reactors. Such technologies have a wide application in space too.
Elizabeth, this is much like a project I saw many years ago at an IBM facility. The researchers were highlighting a message queueing mechanism. They used a Lego robotics kit, which had some basic sensors and actuators. The idea was to send one robot into a maze first. It would report on blockages and try different paths. This data was fed back to a computer which built up a map with the information. Other robots which followed would "subscribe" to the queue with the map information and would be able to navigate the maze without running into anything.
back in college I interviewed for a job where a bunch of computer geniuses were working on programs and one of their fun little projects was a learning computer program that could learn it's way through a maze. Kind of neat to see how something like this could combine with something like that to save lives.
Elizabeth, I think this is a modified version of eagle bird eye, where cameras are attaching to certain moving objects to track its motion. Images from came is transmitted through a small transmitter and receives the signal at the base station. Finally the signals are plotted over the map for path analysis.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us it’s probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps it’s the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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