bots IN BRIEF
Before you’ve even managed to save up for one of the original Naos, Aldebaran Robotics has
come out with an entirely new, even more awesome version.
So, what exactly do you have to look forward to?
• Nao is skinnier. Longer, thinner arms give Nao better reach and more working space in which
to grasp things.
• There's now a full-fledged Atom processor inside Nao. (Helloooo multitasking!)
• Speaking of multitasking, two HD cameras provide parallel video streams, helping Nao get
better at face and object recognition — especially in bad lighting.
• "Nuance" voice recognition helps Nao pick key command words out of sentences.
But wait! There's more! “On top of this new
hardware version, we shall be delivering new software functionalities like smart
torque control, a system to prevent limb/body collisions, an improved walking
algorithm, and more. We have capitalized upon our experience and customer
feedback in order to deliver the most suitable and efficient platform. In terms of
applications especially at high school level, we are focused on educational content
while, when it comes to improvements in personal well-being, we are working on
developing specialized applications,” explains Bruno Maisonnier, founder of
Want one? Of course you do! It looks like you'll still have to go through
the developer program to get one, though, and that'll run you somewhere
Helicopters are typically the most reliable way to get supplies to
some of the more remote outposts in Afghanistan, for example, but
flying resupply missions is dangerous work. Now, some of those aerial
resupply jobs are being taken over by an unmanned K-MAX helicopter.
The K-MAX is an unmanned (or optionally manned) conversion of
the Kaman K-MAX aerial truck, modified for autonomous operations by
Lockheed Martin. The K-MAX has that "aerial truck" moniker because it
was designed from the ground up for cargo lifting with intermeshing
rotors that allow it to lift three and a half tons of cargo (more than the
weight of the helicopter itself) up to 250 miles.
In a test last year, the K-MAX went from "boy, this would be great
if we could get it to work" to "now in preparation for sustained operations" after it accomplished an autonomous cargo
delivery to an unspecified location in southern Afghanistan. Using the K-MAX instead of a manned helicopter protects human
crews, of course, but also allows for more missions to be flown more frequently, because robots don't get tired and are
generally pretty good at flying in the dark.
K-MAX has recently been worked over by the Marine Corps, and if it checks out, the Army, Navy, and Air Force might all
start to invest in an entire fleet of little robotic delivery copters.
20 SERVO 02.2012