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Robotics Wireless Networking Hardware

Wi-Fi Security Robots? 107

Posted by michael
from the ed-209 dept.
John Hering writes "It was bound to happen.... Security Robots that are "Wi-Fi" enabled and capable of enterprise-grade tasks. Details have emerged about a robotics platform that combines cutting edge security and wireless technologies and is capable of integration with buildings' central heating and cooling systems, security systems, air quality controls, wi-fi networks, and even lighting and power systems to provide valuable building services and emergency back-up. It can even greet guests, guide them to their destinations or lead building tours! Similar projects in the past have pushed these robotics technologies forward and spawned numerous new projects , especially amongst the linux community."
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Wi-Fi Security Robots?

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  • security? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:01AM (#8896115)
    Has anybody thought about the security flaws/exploits that would obviously be a problem with such a device? Im not so sure Id want such an extensive robot so open to potential attacks/interference.
    • Re:security? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KrisHolland (660643)
      "Im not so sure Id want such an extensive robot so open to potential attacks/interference."

      You mean you would much rather have a human security guard that can be blackmailed, bribed and bought off.
      • The difference between this and a security guard...
        Maybe you can bribe one guard for a certain ammount of time, but not all are going to succumb to the same bribe. With hacking a robot, it's pretty universal and gives you unlimited control until the next patch is released.
    • PatrolBot systems have been used at companies including Hewlett-Packard, Pfizer Global Research and Victoria's Secret.

      Exploits? Sweet!

    • Hell, just get a strong cordless phone near these babies, and they're pretty much toast. :)
    • The funny thing is just about anything can be exploited once it's created. In fact, most advances in technology are borne of the desire to exploit and the necessity to not be exploited. It's a constant work in progress, so kudos to the people that aren't so Nihilistic that they stop trying to create because of knowledge of how it can be used.
  • Lets hope that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Its secure enough to not let this happen:

    Some one hacks one of these things and it opens the front door for them.

  • by JessLeah (625838) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:08AM (#8896138)
    ...do these security robots run? I just know I'm going to get modded Troll for this, but with all due respect, I wouldn't feel terribily comfortable with a company whose security bots run Windows. I'll feel especially freaked out when the security bots advance to the point where they are actually armed. Can you imagine Windows BSoDing on one of these things, and causing a gun to fire? Gives me the shivers. And I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it happens... (shit, if the Navy can base an entire warship around Windows...)
    • by metlin (258108) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:20AM (#8896156) Journal
      If you had read the article, you would have realized that they do not carry arms themselves - they merely assist the guards by carrying equipment and the like into dark and unsafe places. They're primarily built to be surveillance robots, that is all!

      It's not just the software being Windows or Linux or whatever - its the hardware too. There is a reason NASA had chosen x86 for a lot of its missions - reliability and hardware dependability.

      And quite honestly, I find it really unlikely for any of these things to be running anything close to Windows (if they ever wanted, it would be CE, which again is not really a good option). These things would have to be built for realtime apps, coupled with networking capabilitis and the like and would perhaps be happier running something like QNX [qnx.com].

      Or ofcourse, customized Linux/*BSD kernels.

      And oh, Naval ships do run Windows within the ship - perhaps not the control centers, but still, a significant chunk of the (active and on-duty) Navy does use Windows.
      • NASA uses the X86 because it is the only CPU that has been hardend to withstand the rigors of space flight(stuff like radiation).

        Navy ships do use Windows, but not for any "Mission Critical" systems. Unix is used for all the sensory input type stuff. By law ships are only allowed to use computers as "navigation aids." Computers cannot be used as the primary means of navigation. On a navy ship the Quartermasters still get out their Sextants and "Shoot Stars" and other hevenly bodies every night to check the
      • they merely assist the guards by carrying equipment and the like into dark and unsafe places. They're primarily built to be surveillance robots, that is all!

        Yeah sure, for a while. But human nature...

        guard 1: Johnny-5 just came back from the ventilation system; says a M4d gang of h4xx0r5 have penetrated into the NOC - and they're armed with some really stoopid hardware.

        guard 2: I'm not crawling around in there. Here, give Johhny you're shotgun...

      • There is a reason NASA had chosen x86 for a lot of its missions - reliability and hardware dependability.

        Except that NASA doesn't use the x86 for its "reliability and dependability". Most NASA mission up until the early 90's used some variation of the MIL-STD 1750 rad-hardened processor (for its reliability and dependability). The early 90's saw the advent of faster, better, cheaper, and a bunch of the Small Explorer (SMEX) missions, such as TRACE, WIRE, and FUSE, used x86 processors. But I suspect th

    • by Anonymous Coward
      To be truely secure it should probably run an embedded OS on a nonwriteable medium.
    • by Hortensia Patel (101296) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:37AM (#8896188)

      I just know I'm going to get modded Troll for this


      Yes, because dissing Windows on Slashdot is really sticking your head into the lion's mouth. You wild, untameable, devil-may-care, free-speaking rebel, you.
    • ...do these security robots run? I just know I'm going to get modded Troll for this, but with all due respect, I wouldn't feel terribily comfortable with a company whose security bots run OS/2. I'll feel especially freaked out when the security bots advance to the point where they are actually armed. Can you imagine OS/2's poor drivers acting up on one of these things, and causing a gun to fire? Gives me the shivers. And I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it happens... (shit, if banks can base en
    • Can you imagine Windows BSoDing on one of these things, and causing a gun to fire?

      "Command link severed. Default setting: Crush, Kill, Destroy."

    • iRobot and Raytheon (Score:2, Informative)

      by zogger (617870)
      --already being developed, the fighting armed robot. They are starting with just surveillance and whatnot, but quickly got to the point in the article and through the hemming and hawing they dropped Raytheon's name, which is a good indicator to me of an example of a "extreme violence is highly profitable" corporation.

      Here's the link to the Wired article about it [wired.com]

      I think it's a valid concern, because you know they will keep developing these things all the way, I have expected it.

      There's already enough

    • Why would a BSoD mean it fires weaponry? More likely it BSoDs and nobody notices until somebody really needs it. Not to mention XP hardly ever BSoDs anymore (as in next to never).

      But yeah, equiping them with semi-autos and using them as corporate security is the logical next step. Security is part of your payroll that only proves useful about 2 days out of every year and does tedious, boring (read: sitting or pacing) work the rest of the year. Exactly the kind of work robots are best suited for. Never slee
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by crawdaddy (344241) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:11AM (#8896146)
    A walking, talking robot? Is his name Johnny-5?
  • So when will I be able to buy my own Rat Thing, and will it actually be able to neutralize an intruder?

  • Well! What's new? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhrozenF (205108) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:16AM (#8896155) Homepage
    I hope you all have seen Sony's QRIO ROBOT. It's that humanoid robot. More like an AIBO in the human form.

    Can do all that the AIBO can, and can do it all a lot better cause it can carry a lot more equipment. It has Wi-Fi, and a customizable software that lets you control all cameras / motion / etc. It can be used as an autonomous creature, or be remote controlled.

    A customized version could easily do security robot tasks.

    Read more about it here [techtree.com].
  • Not wi-fi yet - but can that be far off?

    Loss of robot in Iraq [cnn.com] from iRobot [packbot.com]
  • by igrp (732252) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:32AM (#8896180)
    Cute? Check.
    Futuristic-looking? Check.
    Create enough hype to get VC, DARPA and NIH funding? Check.

    In reality though, these are a far cry from being practical, cost-effective replacements for human security or maintenance personell. Well, maybe HP R&D does use them but that's about it as far as practical applications go (at least at this point). It just doesn't make sense to employ these outside of a tradeshow or R&D environment from a business point of view.

    What happens, for instance, if an intruder does decide to jam the WiFi network (not really that hard to do)? Do the robots have the AI required to perform their scheduled tasks autonomously? Or will they require human supervision and internvetion (in that case, they aren't really anything more than cool, mobile surveillance cameras).

    I'm sorry but I just don't see any practical applications (aside from, maybe, logistics) for these robots at this point.

    • What happens, for instance, if an intruder does decide to jam the WiFi network (not really that hard to do)?

      That in itself tells you something. If you're wireless networks being jammed, somethings wrong.

      Don't think human replacement, think human augmentation. One human security guard from a safe central terminal can monitor a bunch of automated surveillance drones. The drones can be in multiple places at once, carry thermal imaging cameras, fit in small places, etc, etc. The guard functions as the co

  • Good timing... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by danielrm26 (567852) * on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:34AM (#8896182) Homepage
    Kind of ironic that Assimov's "I,Robot" trailer just hit theaters this weekend. Anyone who hasn't, by the way, needs to read Bill Joy's "Why The Future Doesn't Need Us."
  • by foobsr (693224) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:41AM (#8896192) Homepage Journal
    ... there is a company here (de) which has a product out since ~2001.

    See ... [robowatch.de](with product videos).

    Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate.

    CC.
  • Uh oh.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by poohsuntzu (753886)
    security systems, air quality controls, I can see it now.. someone logs in trying to use an unencrypted signal. HAL: "What are you doing Dave? How do you feel?" Moron: -gasping for breath-
  • by UrGeek (577204) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:46AM (#8896200)
    "enterprise-grade tasks" Would that be NCC-1701/A/B/C or D? What a load of marketing crapspeak.
  • by Tsunamisan (772301) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:51AM (#8896206)
    The idea was of a micro air vehicle with a CCD camera and an intercom that I could control via the campus Wi-Fi network. I could sit at home in my underwear eating Cheerios and literally "land" my little robot on my desk at the 8AM antenna theory class and "attend" lectures :-)

    My biggest concern would be lag that would cause me to lose control and crash into a door or the professor's head. Then again, imagine this: You're happily strolling to class and right as you get to the closed door, this tiny robot aircraft hovering there starts talking to you "Hey, little help with the door, please?"

    Awesome :-)
    • If anyone wonders why nerds go to such extreme lengths to avoid early classes, they simply have to realize that most nerds work until 3 or 4am on their projects. It's really just a shifted lifecycle.

      Now if only engineering schools could be more understanding of their primary audience. BTW, I really like your idea. What would be awesome if there was a built in laser pointer so the "flying bee robot" could point at the white/blackboard while asking questions.
    • Dragan Flyer [rctoys.com]... Its not wi-fi controlled, but you could probably replace the camera with the guts of a wi-fi camera [linksys.com] or something.
  • Now all I need is a Death Star so I can have these running around the corridors.
  • Robocop (Score:3, Funny)

    by ChronoWiz (709439) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:55AM (#8896212) Journal
    "Please put down your weapon! - You have 20 seconds to comply!
    You now have 15 seconds to comply!
    You now have 5 seconds to comply! 4...3...2...1..."
  • Social Impact (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rui Lopes (599077) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @05:57AM (#8896216) Homepage
    Did anyone thought of the social impacts these "wifi robots" can bring? i mena, here at Portugal this kind of job is usually done by retired men and young people that couldn't find another job. If these robots substitute humans, more unemployed people will appear. Social-unfriendly technology isn't the way to go, IMHO.
    • And the car (or taxi) you drive must be stopped because it was made with machines. Imagine how many metalsmiths it putout of business

      The house you live it was made from lumber cut by machines. TEAR IT DOWN. Imagine the number of carpenters you put out of business.

      Those circuit boards in your computer were created by a machine. DESTROY IT. Pay a retired electrical engineer to fashion you one from scratch..

      Those shoes you are wearing were created by a machine. BURN THEM. Go pay a cobbler to make your a pai
  • by malia8888 (646496) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:01AM (#8896221)
    From the article: Once a PatrolBot scans its work areas, it travels automatically to perform tasks: mapping temperatures to improve central heating and cooling efficiency; measuring wi-fi signal strength to improve coverage; enabling security guards to remotely investigate several problems simultaneously, and carrying light, emergency supplies or other equipment into an unsafe or dark building.

    One of these PatrolBots was modeled after my dad. He walks up and down the halls in his blue flannel robe shutting off the lights; turning down the heat; mumbling that the company is NOT made out of money.

  • Dave: Let me out, HAL! I have to get to work!
    HAL: I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave. A fatal exception 0E has occured at 0428:C000A313 in VXD VMM(01) 00009313. The current occupant will be terminated.
    Dave: Oh, crap.

    ~UP
  • Robocop? I am pretty sure he had Wi-Fi parts. :)
  • Three laws? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HawkinsD (267367) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:19AM (#8896251)
    Yes, but are these units Three Laws [wikipedia.org] safe?

    I'm not sure how well Windows XP runs on positronic brains.

  • "It was bound to happen.... Security Robots that are "Wi-Fi" enabled and capable of enterprise-grade tasks.

    You mean, as seen in video games like HalfLife, DeusEx, Quake, and who knows what else? And probably numerous SciFi movies and TV shows as well...
  • Uh oh.... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Someone just used "wireless," "security," and "lighting and power systems" in the same sentence.

    I hope theres a list of places that end up using these...so I can avoid them.
  • Though our continued progress towards a world where people can move around without any disibility stoping them from doing so, we allow not only these robots to access anywhere, but the Dalics can invade without problem! *goes into a deep paranoid psychosis*
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or we will raise the temperature of your building 1 million degrees for 5 days!

    This thing is begging to be hacked.
  • Can you imaginge wardrivers for these robots. Oh look mom, our robot is attacking our dog! Why is it trying to weed from our neighbor again! So where do I buy one?! Come on JOHN HERING! GOCHNAUER - Grant Gochnauer
  • I ROBOT "CRUSH KILL DESTROY",

    No one will ever suspect the toaster ;O) ROTL

    I guess the engineers gave up trying to make robots that were actually helpful.

    Perfect Security + Humans == Perfect Crime
  • Can they... (Score:3, Funny)

    by segfault7375 (135849) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:54AM (#8896489)
    Can they go to meetings for me and just smile and nod? If so, where do I sign up? :)
  • jammer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tasinet (747465)
    It is not only about vulnerabilities and exploiting the robot's software, even simpler things could be a great issue in such cases..

    For example, a jammer. Operate a jammer in the 11 wifi bands and you got it isolated.

    Simple?
  • by WillDraven (760005) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @10:04AM (#8896748) Homepage
    I for one welcome out new wi-fi enabled robot overlords.
  • These robots will continue to provide valuable security services for your enterprise until a small bank of people from a competing company you're about to crush manage to destroy your droid control ship, right?
  • AITree Cognitive Architecture -- AI Has Been Solved for Wi-Fi Robots
    The mind-modules below are ordered in such a way that you may comprehend the internal structure of the AI4U [isbn.nu] Mind-1.1 [sourceforge.net] software at a glance. Notice for instance how many subroutines are nested beneath the Sensorium module. You may click on any mind-module listed here to read its documentation and to inspect its source code in Forth or JavaScript. This primitive AI-has-been-solved implementation is an invitation for you to build upon the cur

  • Lights OFF (Score:1, Funny)

    by The Tweaker (712486)
    Maybe we could get one of these things to keep the light on in the restroom at work. Stupid think turns off after 5 minutes!
    More than once I've been sitting there and the light goes off! Behind the stall door stuck in the dark what a 'bummer' LOL! Nothing like being in total darkness with your pants down!

    No job is finished until the 'paper work' is done!
  • You beat them with the wrench a couple of times and they break, usually dropping a battery which you can use for your flashlight or stun gun.
  • Hack one robot wirelessly, take over the entire building.

    Real smart.


  • Wardriving - It's not just a euphemism anymore...

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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