24 SERVO 03.2014
THIS ONE’S MINE
In 2012, Clearpath Robotics decided to give away a customized
Husky UGV to a worthy cause, and what could be more worthy than
keeping us humans from getting blown up. The University of Coimbra
in Portugal took its free Husky and turned it into a clever
autonomous mobile mine detector.
Huskies don't come stock with the ability to detect mines, so to
get the robot all set to not blow itself (or anyone else) into tiny little
chunks, the team at Coimbra added sensors for navigation and
localization (GPS, stereo vision, and a laser), as well as (more
importantly) a customized two-degrees-of-freedom arm equipped with
both a metal detector and a ground penetrating radar system.
IT MAY BE A SMALL WORLD,
In 2009, it was reported that South Korea was working on
some sort of massive robot theme park that was scheduled to
open in 2012. Now, it's 2014 and Robot Land is back in the news.
Apparently it actually, really seriously might be getting built.
After years of being bogged down in environmental reviews (there's a
stream that probably had some sort of endangered microbe in it on the build
site), Masan Robot Land officially broke ground in December 2013. The first
phase of construction will include a robot research and development center,
a convention center, a robot exhibition hall and — most
importantly — robot theme parks.
This is all supposed to be finished by September 2016 (with
the theme park opening first in January of 2015), which seems
optimistic based on how the project has gone so far. However,
700 billion won (over US$660 million) has been promised, and 89
percent of the required land (300 acres) has been purchased, so
things are definitely happening. Once Phase 1 is complete, Phase 2
will add a bunch of hotels and condos and stuff, to open in 2018.