Economy, Trade, and Industry. No price
is given on the company’s website
ml), which probably indicates that it will
run you a pretty nice chunk of change.
But the main idea is to give the user
a greater sense of independence, which
is not a bad thing. And it could probably
be fitted with a nice demitasse spoon,
making it useful for a fair number of
Hollywood actors and pop stars ...
iRobot’s PackBot Explorer and Sanyo’s upcoming underfloor robot.
Photos courtesy of iRobot and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.
Creeper Checks Structural
battery pack, as usual. More detailed
data should be appearing at www.
sanyo.com by the time you read this.
Quite often, even creepy little
robots on tracks can cost an amazing
amount of money. For example, it was
reported that the US Army recently
ordered 40 PackBots from iRobot
( www.irobot.com) at a cost of $8.8
million, or $220,000 each. It is therefore
interesting that Sanyo appears ready to
introduce a model that is rumored to be
priced at a paltry one million yen (about
$8,900). Sure, the military machines are
more heavily equipped and hardened
for rough duty and, sure, we’re
comparing horses to ponies. But still, at
about 1/25th of the cost ...
In any event, details are spotty, but
Sanyo's new machine — so far, rather
generically named the Underfloor
Robot — is designed to scamper around
underneath potentially crumbling office
buildings, apartments, and other places
that may be suffering from structural
damage. It runs about two hours on a
charge, performing visual inspections
and beaming back video of whatever it
finds. It is equipped with a zoom lens
for getting down to details and will
automatically create reports and
measure the distance between objects.
Other specs include dimensions
(L, W, H) of 420 x 260 x 200 mm ( 16. 5
x 10. 2 x 7.9 in), base weight of 9.6 kg
( 21 lb), and the ability to traverse
bumps up to 85 mm ( 3. 4 in) in height.
Power comes from a lithium-ion
Watch for Floating Objects
Okay, they’re not the most complex
self-operating devices you’ve ever seen,
and all they basically do is bob up and
down; measure temperature, salinity, and velocity;
and relay the information
back home. But the
amazing thing is that the
International Argo Project
( www.argo.net), with
support from more than
40 countries, has
launched more than
3,000 of the things since
2000, and they are scattered all over the globe.
In the operational
cycle, each float spends
10 hours at the surface,
descends to its drifting
depth of 1,000 m ( 3,281
ft), and stays there for
eight to 10 days, drops
to the profiling depth of
2,000 m ( 6,562 ft), then
makes its measurements
during a 10 hour ascent.
The objective is to
allow the world, for the
first time, to take the
pulse of the oceans on a
continuous basis and relay the
information to whoever needs it
within hours of its collection. And
“whoever” includes you.
For the beginner’s guide to
accessing Argo data, log onto www.
html. You’ll be giving speeches on
climatology in no time. SV
Diagram of an Argo Active Float.
Photo courtesy of the Argo Information Centre.
SERVO 01.2008 9