Marines test the capabilities of the Legged Squad Support System for the first time. Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, put the system through its paces at Fort Devens, Mass. The system, or LS3, is designed to reduce the load Marines carry in combat, can reach speeds of 6 mph and carry up to 400 pounds.
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The new competition — announced at AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C. — will take place Oct. 20–26, 2014, in Singapore and is scheduled to occur every two years.
Three teams each from five countries — the United States, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea — will battle for $100,000 in prize money. The student teams will be chosen using a competitive selection model; teams may be from multiple schools, as collaboration among institutions is encouraged to foster innovation and raise the level of competition.
“For the Department of the Navy to continue to develop future capabilities, we need a pipeline of young people interested in subject areas like robotics and autonomy,” said Kelly Cooper, a program officer in ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons department.
“This competition serves as a catalyst for autonomous vehicle development that can ultimately lead to operational unmanned systems.”
Leaps forward in simulation technology and cloud computing are making it possible for challengers from around the world to compete for support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create robots that can help people during natural and other kinds of disasters.
The first DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge task involved the robot walking to, entering and driving a utility vehicle along an obstacle course, then exiting the vehicle and walking through a final checkpoint. (DOD illustration)
During a recent media roundtable, Dr. Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager, and Dr. Brian Gerkey, chief executive officer for the Open Source Robotics Foundation, told reporters about the ongoing DARPA Robotics Challenge, which launched in October 2012 and will end after the final event in December 2014.
The Open Source Robotics Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization in Mountain View, Calif., founded by members of the global robotics community to support open-source software development and distribution for robotics research, education and product development.
“DARPA is focused on the defense mission for DOD,” Pratt said.
“Our primary reason for [creating the robotics challenge] is about the security of our citizens in situations of natural and manmade disasters. [But] the technology DARPA develops often finds its way into all sorts of other parts of life.”
The Internet is the best example, he observed, adding, “I expect that the robots we develop will be used very soon, at least in some form, … within people’s homes,” possibly as helpers for aging populations in nations like the United States and Japan.
There aren’t a lot of times in life when you get to watch history in motion. Especially when that motion is getting up and walking on its own.
Unless, of course, you work with robots.
Now, I’ve been keeping my eye on robot technology since I was old enough to appreciate a good bleep-bloop. I mean, what little kid doesn’t? But recently there’s been an evolutionary upswing in robotechnology. Something that could very well change the way we view artificial intelligence.
I’m talking about this. This is DARPA’s ATLAS robot.
DARPA’s Atlas robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, is truly one-of-a-kind. (photo provided by DARPA)
ATLAS, developed by Boston Dynamics, is six-foot-two and weighs 330 pounds. It contains 28 hydraulically actuated joints. It is a lean, mean, robotic machine. But it’s not perfect. Well, actually it’s not even complete. ATLAS is one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built, but is essentially a physical shell.
A shell for the software brains and nerves that teams from the DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge will continue to develop and refine. Yes, that’s right. There are people right now working on developing the most advanced artificial intelligence brain on the planet. With the intention of putting it in a robot.
The idea behind these projects is to create software versions of the individual neurons and neural circuits that make up the human brain.
The mapping of the brain, at the neuron level, will ultimately allow us to create full simulations of brain functions and increase our understanding of complex neurocognitive processes such as memory, perception, learning, and decision-making.
Advanced software emulations of human brain function have the potential to improve what we know about normal and abnormal brain behavior. They will make it possible to model psychiatric illnesses and to test models of the development, courses, and outcomes associated with these illnesses, which will be far more sophisticated than computer models of the past.
Simulated brains can also be “implanted” into virtual bodies and simulated environmental changes can be manipulated so that researchers can test how the simulation will interact, learn, and adapt within a given environment.
In a race against one another and the clock, robotic boats are battling it out at the 6th International RoboBoat Competition, from July 8th through July 14th.
(graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)
The Office of Naval Research (ONR)-co-sponsored competition will take place on a pond at the Founder’s Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach, Va. The event will feature 15 student teams racing their custom-designed and built boats.
“Our goal is to boost awareness and generate interest for students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] through RoboBoat and similar challenges,” said Kelly Cooper, a program officer in ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons department.
“This is the best way to provide examples and hands-on experience to those students so that they want to join our workforce or become part of the research community.”
This year’s event has a mission that consists of three sets of tasks-one mandatory and two optional for the opportunity to gain extra points.
The first measures propulsion strength, navigation and speed by passing through a set of gates; the second is accurately navigating a winding channel marked by buoys; and the third involves multiple challenges, including retrieving a ball from a landing zone, activating a sprinkler system, capturing a flag, shooting foam arrows through hoops and playing a high-tech afloat version of rock-paper-scissors.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the scientific study and engineering of intelligent machines.
(graphic illustration provided by T2 Telehealth and Technology)
AI technology can be designed to accomplish specialized intelligent tasks, such as speech or facial recognition, or to emulate complex human-like intelligent behavior such as reasoning and language processing. AI systems that are capable of interacting with and making autonomous actions within their environment are called artificial intelligent agents.
An emerging application of AI technology in the mental healthcare field is the use of artificial intelligent agents to provide training, consultation, and treatment services. Researchers at the USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, for example, are currently developing virtual mental health patients that converse with human trainees.
One application is the design of “virtual veterans” with depression and suicidal thoughts who can be used to help train military clinicians and other personnel on how to detect the risk for suicide.
The continual advances of AI technologies and their application in mental healthcare lead to a concept that I call the “Super Clinician”. The “Super Clinician” concept is an artificial intelligent agent system that could either be in the form of a virtual reality simulation or a humanoid robot.
It’s that time of the year again. The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. The flowers are blooming.
See robot. See robot run. (Graphic illustration provided by DARPA)
Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about the DARPA Robotics Challenge. It’s back!What, did you think I was going to say summer? Puh-lease.
*inhales* Ah, I can practically smell the innovation in the air.
In case you didn’t read my post about this last year, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is kind of a big deal. It’s the chance for organizations and innovators around the world to show what they’re made of. Or rather, what they can make a robot out of, if you will.
I guess something you might be asking yourself is, why do we need robots? I think the question you should really be asking is, why wouldn’t we?
Simply put, humans are flawed. We’re limited. We’re fragile. We’re susceptible to illness, we can be emotionally compromised, we’re easily damaged. Our national security is vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters and there are often limitations to what humans can accomplish to help remedy these situations or mitigate further damage.
Today’s robotics are helping, but they are not yet robust enough to function in all environments and perform the basic tasks needed to mitigate a crisis situation.