Toshiba unveils four-legged robot for Fukushima cleanup, far from ready for use

Japan’s Toshiba showed off a new four-legged robot that is designed to venture into highly radioactive areas and assist with the cleanup efforts at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. The irony here is that Toshiba is one of the country’s larger developers of nuclear reactor technologies. Also that the robot is in such a pre-production state, filled with errors and malfunctions, that it probably shouldn’t have been unveiled at this point in development.

With its four legs, the new unnamed robot is intended to be able to climb over debris and other hazards that would be dangerous for humans, as well as recognize when the levels ofradiation are so high that it will interfere with its wireless network used for control, and then move to areas with better reception. In reality, the robot, which looks like a white box attached to four shaky metal legs, took nearly a minute to go up each step on a flight of stairs, lifting one leg at a time. And then it froze with one leg in the air, requiring a repositioning and reboot by developers. Toshiba admits that it could take as long as 10 minutes for the machine to analyze a piece of debris at the nuclear plant and how to move it. Oh, and should the robot ever topple over, it is unable to stand up on its own.

It is still unknown when this advanced tool will be completed, and there are no firm decisions on if it will be used at the Fukushima nuclear plant, however, utility company Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has expressed an interest in possibly using the robot to inspect parts of the reactors. To this day, no human has been able to enter the radiation-heavy suppression chamber where the meltdown occurred since the March 2011 disaster. Goro Yanase, a senior manager with Toshiba, said he hopes the technology they displayed could be used to go into the dangerous areas first and see what’s there.

While certain aspects of the robot are advantageous, most notably the fact that it can go into dangerous areas in place of a human, for work other than inside the meltdown chamber, a much better and more practical solution sounds like the recently unveiled robotic suit, which, controlled by brainwaves, allows a wearer to multiply their strength to lift objects.


RSLSteeper launches third version of its bebionic myoelectric hand

Nigel Ackland could be mistaken for a cyborg. He has a high-tech robotic hand that looks like it started life as a Formula 1 car and its movements are alarmingly lifelike. It’s called the “bebonic3” and is the latest version of bebonic series of artificial hands produced by RSLSteeper of Leeds, U.K. The myoelectric hand has been under development for a couple of years now, but the bebonic3 is moving prosthetic limbs from Captain Hook to Luke Skywalker territory.

Artificial hands have come a long way in recent years, but it turns out the human hand is amazingly complex. With about 29 bones, 34 muscles, 48 nerves and 123 ligaments to operate it, the hand is a piece of engineering that is still streets ahead of current technology.

Patient Nigel Ackland

Patient Nigel Ackland

While there have been a lot of advances over the past fifty years (as evidenced by the i-LIMBProDigits and SmartHand), many artificial hands are little more than powered hooks or pincers that often require a great deal of effort to work. Worse, patients are often caught between the choice of hands that look realistic, but don’t do much, or ones that are functional, but look like something worn by a Bond villain.

The bebionic3 is designed to not only look human, but also to provide the wearer with a large degree of natural movement. Being myoelectric means that the hand is controlled by electrical impulses from the patient’s remaining forearm muscles rather than by wires and harnesses. This makes the hand less tiring to use, though it also makes it heavier and dependent on batteries.

The bebionic3 hand's silicone glove

The bebionic3 hand’s silicone glove

Each finger is controlled by an individual motor controlled by microprocessors that allow the wearer to operate 14 “grip patterns” and hand positions. The hand can automatically adjust its grip to match the task or if it senses that an object is slipping and the fingers fold away realistically when brushing against people or objects. The wrist joint also comes in a variety of forms to suit individual patient needs. This customization extends to the controlling software, which allows the bebionic3 to be wirelessly monitored and configured by a physician.

One possible drawback of the bebionic3 is that its appearance is a bit dramatic, but a realistic-looking silicone glove is available to slip over it. The glove comes in 19 lifelike shades and jet black for those who prefer to keep the cyborg look.

Available wrist configurations for the bebionic3 hand

Available wrist configurations for the bebionic3 hand

Though the bebionic3 is impressive, there is still a long way to go. Using some grips require the patient to move the mechanical thumb manually into a new position and the hand still lacks a sense of touch or proper haptic feedback. Also, the price hasn’t been made public, but it’s likely to at the premium end of the market.


ICRA Robot Challenge 2012

At the annual scientific ICRA 2012 conference the latest robotics and the most interesting robots from all over the world will be presented. A subject of this conference will be «Robots and automation: innovations for needs of the future». Last conference on a robotics of ICRA 2011 took place in Shanghai. There light learned about such interesting development as, for example, PR2, learned to sort clothes and to put it in places. “Lingodroida’s” which are thinking out cartographical names too the robots were presented on ICRA 2011.

 ICRA Robot Challenge 2012

As the part of the program of conference on a robotics this year will take place ICRA Robot Challenge 2012. Where will pass tests for robots on categories «Mobile manipulations», «A modular robotics», «A mobile microrobotics», «A production call» and competition of appendices for an android of DARwIn-OP. ICRA 2012 will pass from May 14 to May 18 in the USA, in the State of Minnesota, will accept its city of Saint Paul.

U.S. Department of Defense intends to build the satellites from space debris

The military department intends to enlist the help of scientists to develop
Build system of devices and nano-satellites launched components derived
of the operation of devices.
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NASA launches a robot on an asteroid RQ36. The mission OSIRIS-REx.

More recently, NASA announced its summary plan for 2016 – to send to the new automatic asteroid mission OSIRIS-REx.
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New robot Tomotaki Takahashi support astronauts on the ISS

Surely, those of you who are interested in space technology, know about the experimental module, released by the Japanese, KIBO. Today it is installed on the ISS.
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Civil authorities were concerned about the invention of America. Drone VASP

High-tech projects for the military establishment has always stood strong financial resources and therefore the development of dozens of steps ahead of what we have in the civil department.

However, there are exceptions! Civil invention for model aircraft store owner Mike Theis, in cooperation with the former American Air Force engineer Richard Perkins is seriously interested, and military and law enforcement agencies.

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Conducted with the help of his quadrocopters Kinekt

A team of researchers from the Institute of Zurich, dynamical systems and control of the Higher Technical School has demonstrated many times to us examples of the special system of testing and evaluation for mobile robots – Flying Machine Arena.

In this “school” minikvadrokoptery learned to play the piano, to fight in a ping-pong, and now engineers have introduced them to the sensor Kinect.

Demonstration of such cooperation clearly presented in the video.

Special sensors Kinect and Flying Machine Arena, built into the system, monitor the operator’s hand position in space. The movement in the air quadrocopters given the right hand gestures, while stroke of his left hand – the machine makes a clever coup in the air.And clapping dutifully make a flying boat to land.

Interesting facts:

If the operator is not moving and waving his arms, quadrocopter goes into standby mode, quietly hovering in the air.

For security reasons, the developers have entered the region of “exclusion zone” around the operator, so the focus from landing on his head quadrocopters fail.

Editor’s note: It is now only possible demonstration Flying Machine Arena, it will still be there?


Protection from enemy fire will be blazing

The company undertook to Radiance Technologies to supply a battalion of army combathelicopter American AH-64D Apache Longbow new hardware-software complexes of protection from enemy fire. They will be installed WeaponWatch equipment worth about $ 8.8 million.

The system is able to pinpoint, localize and classify the shots at the car from any sourceof fire: helicopters, drones and planes, as well as mobile and standing on the spot of ground vehicles, providing a rapid response to threats.

WeaponWatch is equipped with infrared camera and software for signal processing 5 generations. This allows real-time detect heat patterns given in the weapons and quicklyinform both the pilot and the systems that govern the response protective fire.

Editor’s note: the bottom line is that the sensor system arranged different from the usualacoustic sensors, the trigger is much faster speed of sound.
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