Tag Archives: robots

Want to buy a used NASA robot? You can!

Link here. The robot was developed in the 1960s to test spacesuits, though because it leaked oil it was never used.

In fact, this particular 1960s NASA project appears to be a perfect example of “engineers gone wild!” The website explains that the robot was an attempt to replace human test volunteers.

Unfortunately, pressure suits aren’t like coveralls. They’re complex pieces of engineering. A human can provide qualitative information about how (un)comfortable a suit is, but cannot gauge the forces involved with the precision and accuracy that an an engineer needs. In addition, testing pressure suits with volunteers can be grueling, unpleasant and even painful.

In the end, however, the robot didn’t work and the testing was done by humans, probably for a lot less than the $175,000 they spent (in 1960s dollars) to build two of these robots. One however is now being auctioned off, and could serve wonderfully as a great piece of interesting artwork in someone’s home.

Russian robot escapes!

A robot being tested by Russian engineers ended up on its own on a public street, baffling passersby and traffic.

“The robot was learning automatic movement algorithms on the testing ground, these functions will feature in the latest version of the Promobot.” The co-founder of the robot’s maker, Oleg Kivokurtsev, told ura.ru news agency. “Our engineer drove onto the testing ground and forgot to close the gates. So the robot escaped and went on his little adventure.” Kivokurtsev explained.

The team only noticed their brainchild was missing 45 minutes into the robot’s travel stint and by the time they located it, there was already a crowd of puzzled citizens and the police had arrived.

I have a suspicion that this was not really an accident, but instead a publicity stunt, but have no way to confirm this suspicion.

Robotic servicing demo resumes on ISS

After a two year hiatus, engineers have resumed experiments on ISS to demonstrate robotic servicing of satellites in space.

Known by its creative team as the “little ISS experiment that could,” RRM broke uncharted ground in 2011-2013 with a set of activities that debuted robotic tools and procedures to refuel the propellant tanks of existing satellites. Its second phase of operations, which took place in April and May and will resume again later in 2015, offers something entirely different and just as disruptive, says Reed. “We’ve outfitted the RRM module with new hardware so we can shift our focus to satellite inspection, instrument life extension, and even techniques for instrument swap-out,” says Reed. Such servicing technologies could open new possibilities for owners of spacecraft in low and geosynchronous Earth orbit, he says.

Many of the designs of this demo project are based on actual research satellites that need refueling or repair. Thus, if the robot can do the work on ISS, it is likely it can also do the work at the satellite itself.

A compilation of robots falling down at the DARPA Robotics Challenge

More information here. It seems that on the dry run prior to the start of competition, not many robots fell over. Then on Day 1, when the competition was for real, a lot had problems standing up.

The impressive thing about these falls is that, although they look pretty bad, the robots were just fine (well, most of them). After humans got them back on their feet and gave them a reboot, the machines were ready to run again. Team IHMC’s Atlas fell twice during their run and it still scored 7 points (of a maximum of 8). Team MIT’s Atlas had a bad stumble out of the vehicle and also went on to complete most of the course. So it’s a good thing that robots are falling at the DRC Finals—that’s how we’re going to make them better.

Highlights from the just completed 2015 robotics conference in Seattle

Link here. The impression I get is of a very vibrant commercial industry now making a lot of money developing robots for a gigantic range of industrial and commercial uses. Most are industrial, but it is very clear that this technology is very steadily easing its way into public use.

On Friday an astronaut on ISS controlled and steered a rover on Earth.

On Friday an astronaut on ISS controlled and steered a rover on Earth.

While zipping around Earth several hundred miles above the planet’s surface, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano drove a 220-pound (100 kilograms) rover across a moon-mimicking landscape here at NASA’s Ames Research Center, even ordering the robot to deploy a simulated film-based radio telescope antenna.

Robot engineers have successfully built a fleet of small flying robot helicopters that can fly individually or as complex large arrays.

Robot engineers have successfully built a fleet of small flying robot helicopters that can fly individually or as complex large arrays. With video.

Applying this biologically-inspired solution to swarms of robots could enable a wide range of applications. Swarms of robots could be used to explore other planets, or search a large area for a missing person. When a larger payload needs to be lifted, groups of robots would combine to make a larger flying platform and when that job was done, disperse into smaller groups that can cover a larger area. The advantage of distributed control in these scenarios is that there is no vulnerable central control unit which, if taken out, could bring down the entire mission.

Robotic refueling demo begins today on ISS

A robotic refueling demo. designed and built by the same people who ran the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions, begins today on ISS, using Dextre.

This demo is designed to prove that a robot, operated from the ground, can refuel a satellite not designed for refueling. The demo satellite on ISS was built to match the design of several climate satellites already in orbit that will end up defunct in a few years if they can’t be refueled.