WHAT REALLY MATTERS
The go-to way of delivering medical supplies to rural areas of
developing nations is to not deliver them at all, basically, forcing sick
people to hike miles through mountains and jungles to get the drugs
they need. If the weather's been bad and the roads are washed out, well,
good luck. Solution? Do it all by air.
The only way to do that efficiently (or at all) is to scale it way down
from planes and helicopters to small UAVs. This is the concept behind
Matternet which seems to be both a technology and a company who
wants to revolutionize the way medicine is delivered to the billion or so
people who live completely cut off from road networks for at least part
of the year. Matternet will be a network of autonomous quadrotor UAVs
that use GPS and a beacon system to rapidly deliver small packages
(containing drugs or medical testing supplies) to people who can't otherwise get them. Their first commercial platform (look
for it in the next few months) will be able to fly 10 km while carrying a 2 kg load; it should be durable enough to make
thousands of trips in variable weather. Plus, you get all this for only a few hundred dollars a unit. If it works out, Matternet
could mean a drastic quality of life improvement for a lot of people.
Matternet will develop in three distinct phases: Phase 1 involves using a single UAV for point-to-point cargo transport. For
example, a clinic uses a UAV to deliver drugs to an otherwise inaccessible nearby village in 30 minutes or less. Phase 2 will add
remote, autonomous recharging stations to allow UAVs to juice up in between deliveries, enabling them to roam farther afield
and make multiple deliveries without having to return to base. Connect the dots between base stations and you now have a
delivery network. In Phase 3, all of these discrete networks grow large enough that they overlap, and it becomes possible to
use a continuous chain of autonomously cooperating UAVs to transport things across entire continents very quickly and for
cheap. Eventually, the idea is that Matternet turns into a sort of Internet for stuff, where you can make a request and get a
physical object delivered to you. So, “Matter” net.
This new robot is an evolution of the 2003 reading robot that was
presented by the Korea’s Electronic and Telecommunications Research
Institute. This new model is now being used as an ambassador for the
improvement of human-robot relations at the Daejon’s National Science
Museum. It will greet the visitors with nice and caring phrases of love,
along with displaying its emotions through LED facial expressions.
IRON MAN HOMAGE
Sarcos recently said that its second-generation exoskeleton robot suit,
XOS 2 — is now five years away from production. The wearable robotics suit
augments the operator's strength by using a system of high pressure
hydraulics, sensors, actuators, and controllers to bear the weight of an object
while leaving its wearer agile enough to kick a soccer ball. It's also lighter,
stronger, and more environmentally resistant, and it uses half the power of
the company's first exoskeleton (XOS 1) which rolled out in 2008. The XOS
2 has been nicknamed the “Iron Man” suit in homage to the high tech power
suit in the comics and movies.
The Sarcos exoskeleton first came out more than five years ago, when it
was just a prototype developed as part of a DARPA program. Since then,
Sarcos (now a division of US defense contractor, Raytheon) has significantly
improved the device. The XOS 2 exoskeleton is designed to lighten a
soldier's load and help the military reduce injuries. It also lets you pretend
you're Tony Stark.
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