Good point about how going mobile changes the design strategies for drives, power supplies, motors, etc. due to the use of low voltage DC components. This should produce advances in these areas as more low power mobile robots are designed.
There have been a few applications with a fairly standard robot on a platform able to move along a single linear axis of any length. That was for a robot that could follow the production line. Sort of a compromise between fixed and totally free. Power was from a hanging cable, 3-phase & about 8 amps. Way cheaper and simpler than a battery supply, and it was simple to program as one more axis. "Free range" robots are a whole different story, with a totally different set of applications. So the other important thing is that "free" robots probably would need to be made for those different applications, since the standard six-axis robot is simply not suitable for a large portion of what the fixed anchor robots would be doing.
I think this is a wonderful application – Doornik's statement makes perfect sense to me: "In the robot's presence, a magical change occurs where intellect, physical appearance, abilities, or handicaps suddenly become unimportant. Such a therapeutic experience is made possible by the non-human attributes of the robot. His interlocutors are never placed in a situation where the children feel obliged to 'compare' themselves to the robot or be concerned with how the robot may perceive them."
We use our horses in therapeutic horse ministry for the very same reasons – with often miraculous results. I applaud any type of technology that can work to enhance the lives of these children!
I agree, Greg - a good reminder of how power requirements often drive design strategies. It will be very interesting to watch the progress of mobile robots and the types of capabilities that will be integrated into their design as the constraints of current technology are pushed further and further out.
The use of remotely controlled mobile robots to offer a therapeutic experience to autistic children is wonderful idea. Further research in this area and more sophisticated AI routines could give rise to even better treatment programs for such children.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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