bots IN BRIEF
MADE YOU JUMP!
This robot is easily one of the most brilliant designs we've seen. This little
guy was first introduced at the 2010 IEEE International Conference on
Robotics and Automation, where it showed off its ability to jump, land without
smashing itself to pieces, stand up again, turn, and then make another jump.
The epic cleverness of this robot (which was developed by Jianguo Zhao
at Michigan State University) comes from the fact that it uses just one single
pager motor to jump, self-right after landing, and then orient itself to make its
next jump in the right direction.
It's just gotten some substantial improvements. It has nearly doubled its
jumping height to just under a meter, which is about 14 times the height of the
robot itself. It can now turn much faster, at 36 degrees per second — up from
two degrees per second. Plus, the self-righting system is significantly more
robust. All of this stuff has happened without the robot increasing in size or weight — which is fairly remarkable — and it's so
efficient that it can jump hundreds of times without needing to recharge.
A robot like this has all sorts of potential uses, although most of them fall into the (familiar) categories of search and
rescue, environmental monitoring, and military surveillance. It'll be straightforward enough to mount a payload (like a wireless
camera) onto this little dude, but in order to be really useful, it's probably going to have to learn how to right itself on non-flat
surfaces. But have no fear! There's bound to be some sort of clever little tweak that'll make this robot able to jump from rough
surfaces, clear tall buildings in a single bound, solve the world's energy problems, and play the piano — all on one pager motor.
Alternative locomotion methods such as jumping and flying posses several advantages compared to wheeled locomotion.
For example, the jumping sensors can overcome obstacles higher than themselves which is impossible for wheeled ones.
Therefore, jumping provides an ideal solution for rugged terrain manueverability.
DOING THE WAVE (GLIDER)
Recently, four Wave Gliders — self-propelled robots, each
about the size of a dolphin — left San Francisco, CA for a
journey that combined will total 60,000 kilometers. Built by
The data from the fleet of robots is being streamed via the Iridium satellite network
and is freely available in an accessible form on Google Earth’s Ocean Showcase and in a
more complete form to researchers who register. Liquid Robotics is eager to see what
the scientific community does with all the data. So eager, in fact, that they’re asking for
project abstracts, and will give a prize to the top five proposals: six months’ use of a
Wave Glider optimized to collect whatever information the winner needs.
Liquid Robotics’ technology is very different. For one, the Wave Glider is a boat, not a submarine. It sits on top of the
water. That lets it pick up information about weather, waves, and currents that just aren’t available to submarines. It moves
much differently, as well. Submarine gliders propel themselves by repeatedly changing their buoyancy; the Wave Gliders use the
motion of surface waves to paddle underwater fins. Because most of the body of each craft sits above the water, it gets a lot of
sunlight. So, the deck is covered with solar cells that recharge the battery that powers the sensors and transmitters.
(Conveniently, the splashing of the waves helps keep the solar panels spotless.) http://liquidr.com
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