Machinery & Automation

Robot’s Speed-of-Light Communication Could Protect You From Danger

Seeing the same area from many points of view could be confusing to a human, but a computer can combine all the information to build a “model” of the scene and track objects and people. (Credit: Cornell University)

Cornell University researchers are developing a system to enable teams of robots to share information as they move around, and if necessary, interpret what they see. This would allow the robots to conduct surveillance as a single entity with many eyes. Beyond surveillance, the new technology could enable teams of robots to relieve humans of dangerous jobs such as disposing of landmines, cleaning up after a nuclear meltdown or surveying the damage after a flood or hurricane. The project, called “Convolutional-Features Analysis and Control for Mobile Visual Scene Perception,” is supported by a four-year, $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Posted in: News, Defense, Machine Vision, Visualization Software, Optics, Robotics
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Experimental Confirmation of an Aquatic Swimming Motion Theoretically of Very Low Drag and High Efficiency

Researchers used an anguilliform swimming robot to replicate an idealized “wakeless” swimming motion.

It has been established theoretically that self-propulsion of deformable bodies in ideal fluid can occur with a careful specification of the deformation mode shape. With the fluid assumed ideal, vortex shedding, rotational wake, and induced drag would not occur. The implication is that for a real fluid, provided the existence of a thin boundary layer, similarly configured bodies with the same deformation mode shape self-propel without vortex shedding, rotational wake, and induced drag. Only viscous drag effects, due to the existence of the thin boundary layer, are present and unavoidable. The motion mode in question is the little-exploited anguilliform mode exhibited in some aquatic animal swimming. The Anguilla includes the snake, eel, lamprey, and leach, among others.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, TSP, Aerospace, Automation
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Gesture-Based Controls for Robots: Overview and Implications for Use by Soldiers

Developing a more effective means to communicate with robotic devices.

Afuture vision of the use of autonomous and intelligent robots in dismounted military operations is for soldiers to interact with robots as teammates, much like soldiers interact with other soldiers. Soldiers will no longer be operators in full control of every movement, as the autonomous intelligent systems will have the capability to act without continual human input. However, soldiers will need to use the information available from, or provided by, the robot. One of the critical needs to achieve this vision is the ability of soldiers and robots to communicate with each other. One way to do that is to use human gestures to instruct and command robots.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Automation, Robotics
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A Guide for Developing Human-Robot Interaction Experiments in the Robotic Interactive Visualization and Experimentation Technology (RIVET) Simulation

Using computer gaming technology to improve the interaction between humans and unmanned ground vehicles.

ARL's Intelligent Systems Enterprise vision is to enable the teaming of autonomous intelligent systems with soldiers in dynamic, unstructured combat environments, as well as in non-combat military installations and base operations. To accomplish this vision for interdependent soldier-robot teaming, there has been a paradigm shift in robotic research conducted by ARL from the current instantiation of fielded remote-controlled or teleoperated robots to systems with increased intelligence, decision-making capability, and autonomy. This type of teaming is needed for future joint, interdependent, network-enabled operations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Automation
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Identifying the Flow Physics and Modeling Transient Forces on Two-Dimensional Wings

Using mathematics and modeling to understand the flow physics of aircraft wings undergoing highly unsteady maneuvers.

The main objective of this research was to better understand the flow physics of aircraft wings undergoing highly unsteady maneuvers. Reduced-order models play a central role in this study, both to elucidate the overall dynamical mechanisms behind various flow phenomena (such as dynamic stall and vortex shedding), and ultimately to guide flight control design for vehicles for which these unsteady phenomena are important.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, TSP, Aerospace, Automation, Robotics
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The Scaling of Loss Pathways and Heat Transfer in Small Scale Internal Combustion Engines

Understanding the performance parameters of small remotely piloted aircraft powerplants.

The rapid expansion of the remotely piloted aircraft market includes an interest in 10 kg to 25 kg vehicles (Group 2) for monitoring, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Power plant options for those aircraft are often 10 cm3 to 100 cm3 displacement internal combustion engines. Both power and fuel conversion efficiency decrease increasingly rapidly in the aforementioned size range, with fuel conversion efficiency falling from approximately 30% for automotive and larger scale engines (greater than 100 cm3 displacement) to less than 5% for micro glow fuel engines (less than 10 cm3 displacement).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Automation
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NASA Tests Robotic Ice Tools

A robotic claw, one of several innovative tools developed at JPL for exploring icy, ocean worlds like Europa. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Since 2015, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been developing new technologies for use on future missions to ocean worlds. That includes a subsurface probe that could burrow through miles of ice, taking samples along the way; robotic arms that unfold to reach faraway objects; and a projectile launcher for even more distant samples. All these technologies were developed as part of the Ocean Worlds Mobility and Sensing study, a research project funded by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. Each prototype focuses on obtaining samples from the surface - or below the surface - of an icy moon.

Posted in: News, Data Acquisition, Defense, Motion Control, Automation, Robotics
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New Robotic System Finds and Destroys Explosive Threats

U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground data collector Janet Chasse (left) observes as Spc. Melvinne Owino readies carriages that use a shaped explosive charge to detonate buried explosive threats as part of the Standoff Robotic Explosive Hazard Detection System (SREHD). (Credit: Mr. Mark Schauer (ATEC))

In combat, land mine and improvised explosive device (IED) clearance is a slow, painstaking, stressful job that physically and mentally drains soldiers and military working dogs. Technologies that seek out a variety of explosive hazards and IED components have matured in recent years to the point that semi-autonomous robots can detect, mark, and even destroy buried threats. The latest such system is called the Standoff Robotic Explosive Hazard Detection System (SREHD), and testing is currently underway at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG).

Posted in: News, Defense, Robotics
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Swarms of Autonomous Aerial Vehicles Test New Dogfighting Skills

Georgia Tech Research Institute researchers Evan Hammac (left) and Rick Presley prepare Zephyr aircraft for flight during a live demonstration involving teams from the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Naval Postgraduate School. (U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya)

Aerial dogfighting began more than a century ago in the skies over Europe with propeller-driven fighter aircraft carried aloft on wings of fabric and wood. An event held recently in southern California could mark the beginning of a new chapter in this form of aerial combat.

Posted in: News, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Defense, Robotics
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Language Learning Robot Could Advance Autonomous Vehicles

A Purdue University researcher and his team are developing technology to give robots the ability to learn language. A team led by Jeffrey Mark Siskind, associate professor in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has developed three algorithms that allow a wheeled robot to learn the meanings of words from example sentences that describe example paths taken by the robot, to use the words to generate a sentence to describe a path of movement, and to comprehend the sentence in order to produce a new path of movement.

Posted in: News, Defense, Robotics, Simulation Software, Software
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