26 SERVO 09.2013
HEADED FOR TROUBLE
Robots have a tendency to move a lot like, well, robots. The
smooth and natural motions that we humans are so proud of comes
from a combination of many different motions all at once. If you pick
something up, you're generally not just using your arm like a robot
does, but rather, subtly moving your arms, wrists, hands, torso, and
even your head.
With a new movement algorithm, iCub is learning to move in a
much more human-like manner, even with complex motions.
Yes, iCub has learned how to put things on its head.
No species (especially humans) is particularly clever when it comes
to properly interpreting mating calls. Let’s take the túngara frog as an
example. Someone made a robotic one, so we can talk about it. The
female túngara frog (they can be found hopping around most of Central
America) relies on vocal and visual displays from male frogs to find a
suitable mate. However, researchers have made a “rather bizarre”
discovery that a robotic version of the frog can attract females by
hacking into their evolutionary aptitude for filtering out white noise.
While it may not be quite up to Tony Stark's
standards, DARPA's Warrior Web suit has the advantage
of being real. Warrior Web is a flexible exoskeleton suit
that uses only 100 watts of power. The goal is to reduce
the injuries and fatigue that result from a soldier
carrying a typical 100 pound load for extended periods
of time. DARPA hopes the exoskeleton will boost the
soldier's endurance and carrying capacity.
According to DARPA, the Warrior Web program
seeks to develop the technologies required to prevent
and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic
events typically found in the warfighter’s environment.
The ultimate program goal is a lightweight conformal
under-suit that is transparent to the user (like a diver’s wetsuit). The suit seeks to employ a system (or web) of closed-loop
controlled actuation, transmission, and functional structures that protect injury-prone areas, focusing on the soft tissues that
connect and interface with the skeletal system.