11 July 2013, 16:41

10 amazing robots: dragonfly robot moves its wings like real insect

BionicOpter - dragonfly robot

BionicOpter - dragonfly robot

BionicOpter - dragonfly robot

As technologies march forward at a very swift pace, we are confronted with more and more electronic devices designed to help us function or perform uneasy tasks. I have scanned the web in search of the most extraordinary, amazing or amusing robots used today (VIDEO).

1. NASA's new polar robot GROVER

NASA has conducted initial tests of their GROVER polar robot. The tests held in one of the planet’s harshest climates, in Greenland, proved the robot could operate autonomously withstanding 30 mph storms at extremely low temperatures.

GROVER, an acronym for either Greenland Rover or Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research was initially designed by engineering students at Goddard, later being transferred to Boise State University for enhancement at NASA’s expense.

Powered by solar-charged batteries, the 800-pound robot was expected to function non-stop for 12 hours, but due to tough weather conditions its operating time was reduced. Uneven icy terrain was another obstacle that hindered the device from 100 percent success. The engineers had to constantly adjust the robot’s speed and power on its tracks to prevent it from getting stuck in the snow. Nevertheless, GROVER managed to fulfill its basic assignments: it scanned Greenland’s landscape and transmitted information on its own performance in real time.

The researchers say that though this model still needs upgrading, it still proved to be a successful properly functioning model to be launched very soon.

2. Rosphere - Spherical robot-agronomist

Engineers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have come up with the ingenious idea of a special robot designed to work in fields and monitor crop-growing.

Its appearance is a lot like a hamster ball and functions on the same principle – by means of shifting the center of gravity. In the case of Rosphere – this is the name of the device – it is a pendulum rotating on an axle to roll and steer back and forth. The pendulum consists of ballast, which includes the battery and electronics; the axle carries Wi-F-fi antennas. It is guided by on-board sensors and is GPS-navigated

The creators say it could become essential for collecting data on the growing patterns, soils, and ecological factors. The device runs comfortably on rough terrains and performs its duties without damaging the plants. Though the idea of spherical robots isn’t unique, however the scientists gave it a fresh spin, in an effort to create a monitoring device both low cost and effective. With the help of Rosphere it will be easier to apply targeted use of fertilizers and provide timely care for plants which need it.

3. BionicOpter - Dragonfly robot

A fully functional robotic dragonfly is the product of an engineering genius from the German technology company Festo. The electronic insect is almost totally abreast with its natural peer in terms of mobility – it flies forwards, backwards, hovers and even flies sideways.

In terms of size, however, the BionicOpter has bypassed its living model with 19 inches in length and a wingspan of 27 inches. The electronic creature weighs 175 grams and has a pair of independently-functioning wings and a pale blue head.

Festo’s biggest boasting point is the successful realization of the complex dragonfly’s flying techniques, which are a challenge: the dragonfly can fly backwards, hover or glide without moving its wings. This will give the robot a significant edge over already existing aircraft. The dragonfly’s wings are made of foil and carbon-fiber, each supplied with a separate motor allowing 90-degree mobility. The flight control is done by adjustments to the rate of speed at which its wings flap. The robot is battery-powered and is controlled by a single processor.

Though no particular plan on how to put this robot to good use has been introduced, obviously, it has bright future, first of all, by totally revolutionizing the shipping industry in addition to the military sectors. Magazines and newspapers, as well as urgent documentation, could be transported within a short time by such flying robots, this type of delivery can be made possible in any weather of political conditions.

4. Air hockey robot

Japanese engineers at Chiba University have created a robot that is not only an air hockey professional, but it can calculate the odds, analyze its opponent’s playing style and adapt its own strategy based on that knowledge.

The whole system includes a table, a four-axis robotic arm, two high-speed cameras, and an external PC. The camera’s recording speed is 500 frames per second, the pictures are then sent to the PC to be processed and analyzed, and, based on the result, the machine picks an attack strategy.

To make things more challenging the robot functions on three levels. The first layer is responsible for movement and basic functions. The second layer is responsible for the immediate strategy, while the third layer accumulates all the data and creates a strategy.

This robot is part of a bigger program aimed at creating machines which not only perform functions, but are also able to analyze data, store it and basically make educated decisions and predictions based on it. So far the Japanese geniuses are doing very well: the air hockey machine is practically impossible to beat.

5. Cyber cockroach

Backyard Brains lab recently started a funding campaign in support of their RoboRoach project. The goal of this unusual venture is to turn a regular live roach into a cyborg. The toolbox for this operation includes a microchip with electrodes, a battery and Bluetooth. The chip is placed on the roach’s back, while the wires are implanted into the insect’s antennae, which, as we know roaches use as navigation mechanisms. The whole system is controlled through a special iOS app which connects to the roach via Bluetooth. When a command is sent from a mobile phone, the chip sends impulses to the antenna, firing its neurons, making the roach think there is an obstacle on one side and that it must turn to avoid it. The estimated price for the kit is $100.

The RoboRoach creators do not aspire to produce controlled cyborgs for the roach races. According to them, this project will help them study brain functions and the nervous system.

6. Cheetah–Cub - Feline robot

The Swiss University École Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne’s biorobotics lab produced a robot house cat, Cheetah–Cub, evidently to keep BigDog and AlphaDog of Boston Dynamics Company. The scientists’ major goal is to make their electronic feline just as light-limbed and graceful as the original. They have particularly considered Cheetah’s steadiness while crossing an uneven terrain. Cheetah-Cub is aiming to become the fastest-running robot in his weight category (up to 30 kg), according to creator Alex Sproewitz. It resembles a smaller and prettier version of the Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog model. Though still at the development stage, Cheetah-Cub is planned to be given the grace and speed of a real feline, covering as much as seven meters in length in a single jump.

The Cheetah-Cub researchers are also planning on enhancing the robot’s cross-country skills, as creating robots with legs of such exceptional flexibility are a very tough task to achieve, and according to Sproewitz, they are still very unlikely to outrun human beings.

As far as practical application of this robot goes, there hasn’t been any particular agenda yet, the research is conducted for purely scientific purposes, as there is still a long way before such mechanical animals become an integral part of our lives, and the process requires a lot more work not only from pure engineers, but their collaboration with corresponding disciplines like computational neurocontrol.

7.Toyota’s assistant robots

Once strapped in a paralyzed human leg this Toyota Independent Walk Assist robot helps the knee bend and it facilitates natural walking. This device is one element in a bigger Toyota Partner Robot chain, announced to be fully available in 2013.

In 2011 Toyota came up with a line of devices with the ambitious goal of aiding paralyzed patients to walk and maintain balance or assist their caretakers to tend to them. The whole package is scheduled to be introduced to the market shortly after 2013.

One of Toyota's new robots helps patients stride merely by detecting his or her intention to walk. The Walk Training Assist robot has sensors which detect movements of the hips when placed on a paralyzed leg, helping the knee swing forward and facilitate walking.

The second wonder product of the line is Independent Walk Assist. It is made to train people how to walk. Aside from its ability to sense the intention to move and assist in moving feet forward, it also has the ability to carry a patient’s weight. The weight support can be adjusted to the patient’s improving or deteriorating condition. In addition to that, the machine also monitors the patient’s condition to help doctors keep track of progress.

Toyota’s third rehabilitation device is the Balance Training Assist, a Segway-looking two-wheeled balancing game. The patient can select any of the three games on the machine and play special exercises to improve balance under robot’s supervision.

The fourth robot is designed to take a load off the caregivers’ shoulders in addition to helping patients. The Patient Transfer Assist is a platform with weight-supporting arms, which helps to transport an immobile patient as gently as if it were done by a real person.

The robots designed with the active participation of the Fujita Health University Hospital in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, provide the most urgent and adequate feedback on the robots’ functioning.

8. NASA’s new Mars rover Zoe

NASA is testing Zoë, its Mars prototype drilling robot, in the Earth’s driest desert, Chile’s Atakama desert, where it is currently drilling the soil for samples. NASA researchers are preparing it for the future launch to Mars to search for evidence of life on the planet. The desert was specifically chosen to replicate the Martian climate to the fullest degree possible.

Zoë runs on solar batteries and has sensors, cameras, and a drill. It is not only meant to collect the usual samples, but more importantly to search for any evidence of microbes or other forms of life. NASA also plans to test the robot and its endurance in the harsh climate on Earth as Zoe is meant to replace the Curiosity rover in 2020.

As many experts agree, life on Mars, if any, rests deep below the surface, therefore, Zoe would be just the right device to go hunting for it. David Wettergreen, research professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, where the Atakama project had been launched, said, “Chances improve with greater depth but we are first developing one-meter capability and integrating with a mobile robot.”

If before the researchers’ major interest were the capabilities of the rover, now the focus has been move to the actual lab needs. As Wettergreen pointed out, “Now, we think of the robot as a tool to collect specific data from specific locations, rather than as a machine that drives around.”

9. FastRunner -The world’s fastest robot

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) and MIT combined their efforts in producing a robot whose abilities would resemble precisely those of a real ostrich, that is, the fastest-running robot in history. The secret of the robot’s speed is in the fact that it uses a unique leg design which needs one actuator per leg with mechanical tendons. This pattern enables the legs to move at a greater pace. The robot stands at 4.6 feet and weighs 66 pounds and moves on average from 20 to 50 mph.

Though FastRunner – the name granted to the ostrich’s electronic brother – may eventually lose its leadership as the fastest robot to Cheetah, according to MIT, it is ready to navigate more problematic environments.

10. Panasonic's hair-washing robot

According to Panasonic, the mastermind behind the robot, this robot had been designed for those who can’t handle the task on their own. It might be of use to nursing home or hospital patients. It successfully performs the whole process of hair care from washing to drying. The whole procedure is performed by sophisticated robot fingers after an exploratory head scan.

The machine has 16 fingers, which, according to the product’s creators, have the same dexterity as real human fingers and perform the job after sensors have collected data on the client’s head, determining the degree of greasiness and calculating the proper amount of shampoo.

The machine also keeps a record of each head it washes.

Voice of Russia, phys.org, techhive.com, bellasugar.com, weirdasianews.com, technabob.com

 

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