"If you put lots of high-tech stuff on a soldier's helmet and the additional mass makes the helmet slide over the soldier's eyes when he dives into a fox hole, that's a problem," says Robert Playter, vice president of engineering at Boston Dynamics. "That's the kind of problem you want to uncover before the helmet makes its way to the battlefield." Boston Dynamics is developing software tools for virtual prototyping of next-generation soldier equipment that are part of Objective Force Warrior, the U.S. Army's new science and technology initiative to develop future soldier fighting systems. The company is using its Digital Biomechanics , which relies on robotic control and physics-based models, for providing human-simulation software that obeys the same laws of locomotion, balance, and loading as a person would in the physical world. Analysts at the Army's Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA use Digital Biomechanics to assess the impact of prototype designs on soldier performance before building physical mock-ups and testing with soldiers. Virtual prototyping reduces the design cycle. "Instead a design cycle of a year or more, the goal is to get things done in months or weeks," says Playter. Prototyping tools the company will deliver to the Army in upcoming months include physics-based simulation of soldiers performing war-fighting tasks. "We proved the concept, now we are developing the product." For more information, go to www.bdi.com.
According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the factors in the collapse of the original World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, was the reduction in the yield strength of the steel reinforcement as a result of the high temperatures of the fire and the loss of thermal insulation.
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Robots are getting more agile and automation systems are becoming more complex. Yet the most impressive development in robotics and automation is increased intelligence. Machines in automation are increasingly able to analyze huge amounts of data. They are often able to see, speak, even imitate patterns of human thinking. Researchers at European Automation
call this deep learning.
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