Robotics Rodeo III
If you're a fan of heavy-duty, expensive, and potentially fatal robotic systems, there's great news. The US Army will hold
its third Robotics Rodeo in May 2012 at Ft. Benning (near Columbus, GA), and you're invited. This follows successful events
in 2009 and 2010. (It was called off in 2011 to allow "a little more time for technologies to mature.")
Robotics Rodeo III — co-hosted by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center
(TARDEC) and Fort Benning's Maneuver Battle Lab — consists of two programs: the "Extravaganza" which is open to the
public, and the "Robotic Technology Observation, Demonstration, and Discussion (RTOD2)" which is not. Continuous updates
and registration details are available at www.tardec.info/roboticsrodeo.
Half Tank, Half Gecko
Addressing the never-ending need for more agile robots is the Tailless Timing Belt
Climbing Platform (TBCP- 11), a recent creation at Simon Fraser University ( www.sfu.ca)
up in British Columbia. The prototype has the ability to scale walls with tank-like moves
using an adhesive to mimic the sticky toes of a gecko. The idea is to provide "an
alternative to using magnets, suction cups, or claws which typically fail at climbing smooth
surfaces like glass or plastic. It also paves the way for a range of applications, from
inspecting pipes, buildings, airplanes, and even nuclear power plants to employment in
search and rescue operations." Unlike a gecko, however, the TBCP uses biomimetic dry
adhesives that use Van der Waals forces for adhesion. These are composed of microscale fibers that conform to relatively
rough surfaces to maintain the stickiness. If sensors detect a pending detachment, the robot can adjust itself to compensate.
At present, the device is said to function "fairly independently," but fully autonomous function remains under development. SV
TBCP- 11 — a climbing bot from
Simon Fraser University.
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