To many of us, service robots often mean robots that assist the elderly, or help with the rehabilitation of medical patients. But the range of services that robots can perform is extremely broad. Some are involved in agricultural tasks that are either dangerous or rough on humans, such as weed-pulling and harvesting crops. Others collect trash and garbage, or work in recycling to sort waste from usable, reclaimable materials.
In security and law enforcement, there are simple robots that autonomously "walk" a beat looking for sensor readings that raise an alarm, as well as telepresence robots that can give disabled police or veterans jobs as remote patrol officers. Other robots, shaped like fish, swim in schools to detect polluting chemicals in seawater, and one robot is being developed to go into orbit as a combined mobile gas station and spacecraft mechanic.
Click on the photo below to check them out.
Robotic fish that swim in schools and cooperate using artificial intelligence to detect and identify pollution in seawater have been created by SHOAL, an EU-funded group of researchers led by BMT Group. The goal is to cut the time required to detect pollution in ports and other aquatic areas from weeks to seconds, using the robotic fishes' chemical sensors for onsite analysis. The robots can avoid obstacles, determine where to look for pollution using mapping, locate its source, maintain a maximum communication distance from the rest of the school, send data underwater back to a base station, and return to it for recharging. (Source: BMT Group)
Quite welcome. This forum for communicating/discussing the latest in Design Tools, Products technology is great. The articles allow me to stay current with tech without searching for additional web resources which really helps with a busy schedule.
mrdon, thanks for your response. We try to tell readers about stuff that's actually available or in existence, as well as designs and products that are bleeding edge or just out of the lab. We think great concepts and ideas are worth knowing about, as well as ones that have made it all the way to commercialization. That path may be littered with the corpses of great ideas, so to speak: they sometimes fail for other reasons.
Is that a USB port on the fishes lower lip (I guess fish have lips) anyway, instead of sprinkling food in the water for the old-fashioned type of fish the port is probably for down-loading the "fishes" memory and for recharging the thing.
Some of the applications proposed were very good ideas, but some did seem to be quite unrealistic. The "service station" satelite is one that is quite a stretch in that it could only work with those packages designed to work with it.
In addition, all of the packages showing a system using only two wheels wind up beng fairly limited, since the effort to maintain balance will certainly reduce the types of surfaces that they can function on. That is even more so for those units mentioned as working in law enforcement or surveilence, where stability is vital. It would be quite simple to disable a two-wheeled robotic cop, for instance. Just toss a heavy coat over it's head and it is out of service.
BUt the ultimate realm of service robots is very large once we get past the unworkable concepts. That is where engineering enters the picture, because engineers usually have a better grasp of what can and can not work.
mrdon, to answer your question, 5 of these are in development (numbers 2, 5, 8, 10 and 11), and the other 6 are actually operational. Many readers want to see what's being developed, tried out, or even just thought of, as well as what's actually working.
SparkyWatt, I agree. The slideshow was not impressive due to the unrealistic designs being proposed. I'm a firm believer that design concepts need to be validated using functional prototypes instead of "What If" imagery. Its about practicality thru functionality that truly brings a design to life.
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