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Robotics The Military Technology

Supercomputer Designer Asked To Improve Robo-Bugs 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-make-them-super-robo-bugs? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The man who designed the world's most energy-efficient supercomputer in 2011 has taken on a new task: improving how robo-bugs fly. Wu-chun Feng, an associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, previously built Green Destiny, a 240-node supercomputer that consumed 3.2 kilowatts of power—the equivalent of a couple of hair dryers. That was before the Green500, a list that Feng and his team began compiling in 2005, which ranks the world's fastest supercomputers by performance per watt. On Feb. 5, the Air Force's Office of Scientific Research announced it had awarded Feng $3.5 million over three years, plus an option to add $2.5 million funding over an additional two years. The contract's goal: speed up how quickly a supercomputer can simulate the computational fluid dynamics of micro-air vehicles (MAVs), or unmanned aerial vehicles. MAVs can be as small as about five inches, with an aircraft close to insect size expected in the near future. While the robo-bugs can obviously be used for military purposes, they could also serve as scouts in rescue operations."
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Supercomputer Designer Asked To Improve Robo-Bugs

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  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:28PM (#42812057)
    You know, it's sad, fascinating and scary to witness sci-fi come to be reality. It looks like we need to start working on counter-measures to these little (micro) intrusion devices.
    • I'm not really sure what you are trying to say here, because the only thing he's going to be working on is improving computer power, either through hardware or software. All he is doing is a simulation, as stated in the summary, his contract is to: " speed up how quickly a supercomputer can simulate the computational fluid dynamics of micro-air vehicles."
    • I think Bill Gates is already working on it [wikipedia.org].
  • See if there are any motor-sailplane control algorithms you can copy, and don't fly them unless the wind is very still.

  • The paparazi will have them working well before the military does.
  • I wonder which is more important in this situation, an improvement in the software or hardware.
  • Sorry but a multi-megaflop machine is NOT a super computer, not even in the most basic stretch of the word. Yes it's impressive how much compute these guys can get out of so little power, but lets not kid our selves here. These machines are in no way super computers as commonly defined.
    • I think you meant multi-gigaflop:

      " the top spots on the list have been taken over by machines that combine commodity processors with coprocessors or graphics processing units (GPUs) to form heterogeneous high-performance computing systems.

      With all eyes on the new TOP500 number one system, Oak Ridge National Labs' Titan, it was a system belonging to a neighbor at the University of Tennessee that debuted at the top of the November Green500 List. The National Institute for Computational Sciences' Beacon
      • Hi Yes,

        But this is comparing a fast bicyclist to a fast space craft in the sense of speed difference here.

        We're talking machines that are pushing into the tens and hundreds of petaflops (next generation).

        I'm fine with calling them low-power high performance clusters, but calling them super computers is something completely different altogether.

        • Fair enough and you are correct. I just looked it up and the 2012 winner for fastest supercomputer was the Cray Titan at 17.59 PFLOPS.

          source here [wikipedia.org]
          • by Anonymous Coward

            TL;DR The term supercomputer is not very precise but it really doesn't take much to build one that would be on the Top500 list (which one could argue is "a definition" of what a supercomputer is.)

            While I would argue that just because something doesn't make the Top500 doesn't mean it isn't a supercomputer, no one can contest that being on the Top500 list makes your machine a supercomputer. Hence a better working definition may be to look at the BOTTOM machine on the Top500. As of November 2012, that would be

    • One very useful definition of a supercomputer is "any computer with performance within an order of magnitude of the fastest computer on the TOP500 list".

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