Fascinating insights and discussion of the ethical and practical considerations of military robots, from The Verge Postdoctoral Research Associate Mark Gubrud, commenting on the DARPA Robotics Challenge: “DARPA’s trying to put a face on it, saying ‘this isn’t about killer robots or killer soldiers, this is about disaster response,’ but everybody knows what the real […]
Meet NASA JSC’s ‘Valkyrie’ DRC Robot
Set to compete in the DRA (DARPA Robotics Challenge,) Robotnaut’s newer cousin Valkyrie is designed with a terrestrial environment in mind. Information, pictures, video here.
Google buys 8 robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics
People have joked about Google going sentient and becoming a real, live Skynet. And people have observed that Boston Dynamics’ military robot “PetMan” bears more than a passing resemblance to a Terminator. Well Google just bought Boston Dynamics, its eighth robotics or AI company purchase in 2013. What is Google up to? Probably nothing as sinister as […]
Capable of traversing snow, ice, mud, sand, grass, and swimming in water, Guardbot has two onboard HD cameras which can be independently oriented. Guardbot can be scaled up to 9 feet in diameter and is capable of remote-controlled or autonomous operation.
Robear can help move elderly or infirm patients from their bed to a wheelchair, or help them stand up. Robear was developed by the RIKEN-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research and Sumitomo Riko Company in Japan.
Robear is part of the company’s ongoing R&D to devise new ways to assist with care of the elderly.
“That’s an increasingly urgent challenge in Japan, where the elderly population is growing fast. According to Riken, robots like Robear can play an important role in taking the strain off nurses and caregivers, who may be having to lift patients 40 or more times a day, risking lower-back pain in the process.”
“Spot” is lighter and more agile than his gas-powered big brothers, and since there is no onboard internal combustion generator, no longer has that irritating chainsaw hum from the previous models. Spot only weighs about 160 pounds. True to form, Boston Dynamics shows this new prototype recovering from a (disturbing as always) kick from a human, which severely disables the robot. It does an extremely impressive job of maintaining its footing, I just can’t help wishing it had kicked the human back. But given how many people are losing their jobs to AI and automation, we might all feel like kicking a robot soon.
AI is now advanced enough that it can be fed raw data, and produce a news article which looks like it was penned by a human. News articles are now routinely written and published in this way. The LA times recently wrote and posted a snippet about an earthquake, three minutes after the event, using one of these writerbot algorithms.
“Kristian Hammond, cofounder and CTO of Narrative Science, thinks some 90% of the news could be written by computers by 2030.”
I guess that’s only fair, since in 2030, the robot population is expected to surpass the human population. Still, as more and more people begin to lose jobs to robots and automation, I had hoped journalists were safe. Remember to be skeptical if, in the near future, you see news articles like “100% of All Humans Want a Robot President” or “I For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords.”
If they are ever going to be able to pass for human, robots will have to be endowed with a more natural gait. This mini bot has an incredibly natural, human-like walk. It is a KHR-3HV robot kit, modified by Masahiko Yamaguchi, a roboticist who has worked at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Boston Dynamics, and Osaka University.
Developed in the Swiss laboratories of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the Cheetah-Cub robot is about the size of a housecat, and moves like one as well.
“We show experimental results where Cheetah-cub robot reaches 1.42m/s speed, (3.2mph), almost seven body lengths per second. This makes Cheetah-cub robot the fastest running quadruped legged robot under 30kg”
Studies suggest that humans perceive robots, even simple robots, as a more legitimate authority figure than another human. Pictured above, one of two new 8-foot-tall robots directs traffic in Kinshasa.
“The automatons are little more than traffic lights dressed up as campy 1960s robots—and yet, drivers obey them more readily than the humans previously directing traffic there.”