The Boy Scouts of America — which offers more than 120
badges ranging from archery to wilderness survival — has unveiled a
robotics merit badge meant to promote science, technology,
engineering, and math — fields collectively known as STEM. In doing
so, the 101 year old Texas-based organization is trying to remain
relevant and better reflect boys' interests, commented Matt Myers,
who oversees the Boy Scouts' STEM initiative.
Badges have been dropped over the years — blacksmithing and
beekeeping, for example — and replaced with new versions more in
line with skills boys need to succeed, he said.
"Last century, camping was an essential survival skill. Sometimes,
you might have had to live outside in the 1900s to survive. We view
STEM as an essential survival skill in the 21st century," Meyers
explained."We're just trying to keep relevant with what kids need to
Officials expect at least 10,000 of the nation's 2. 7 million Boy
Scouts to earn the new badge in the next year, compared with the
roughly 500,000 who earn the most popular badge (first aid) each
year. Those earning the badge will be required to design and build a robot while learning about robot movement, sensors,
DEEP RECOVERY EFFORTS
A team of autonomous underwater robots is playing a crucial role in locating
debris and missing bodies from Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the
Atlantic Ocean almost two years ago with 216 passengers and 12 crew members
on board while traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
Three robots — called REMUS 6000s — took to the water off Suape, Brazil,
on March 25th with the goal of searching the seafloor until the wreckage was
found. This was the fourth search mission in two years by investigators to locate
The flight occurred back on May 31, 2009 and so far, 177 are still missing.
Officials said that the bodies would be brought to the surface within a month.
The REMUS 6000s — developed by researchers at the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution — can dive as deep as 6,000 feet and can remain
underwater for 20 hours at a time.
After just a week into the planned three-month search, one of the robots —
or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) — caught a glimpse of debris which
was later confirmed as parts of the missing plane. Divers later discovered bodies
from the crash that had been given up for lost.
The debris from the flight was found about 600 miles off the coast of Brazil, at
a site no farther than six miles from the last-known location of Air France Flight
447, according to the New York Times.
About 13 feet in length and 28 inches in diameter, each torpedo-shaped
autonomous vehicle emits a sonar beam that scans up to 600 meters on either
side as it travels along the sea floor. The robots are programmed to move in long
overlapping lanes — a process the team dubbed “mowing the lawn” — and use
their sonar to create a broad overview of the landscape. The bots can return to
areas of interest for a closer look using high resolution cameras located on their bellies.
24 SERVO 06.2011