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Swinging Robot Excels At Wall-Climbing 54

Zothecula writes "Engineers have used a variety of techniques to create robots that can scale walls — the Climber uses a rolling seal, while the insect-like robots from SRI have caterpillar tracks with electro-adhesive properties. While such robots generally focus on speed, adhering to the wall and deciding how and when to move, the creators of a small robot named ROCR say it is the first wall-climbing robot to focus on climbing efficiently. And it does so by using the momentum of a tail that swings like a grandfather clock's pendulum."
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Swinging Robot Excels At Wall-Climbing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @02:32AM (#33158658)

    Pardon my Latin (I actually don't know any). Anyway, those of you familiar with Ray Kurzweil's writings know well his predictions of when robots (A.I.) will surpass then vastly outperform humans in intellectual powers.

    Well here's something that people may have overlooked. Robots may well surpass us sooner (a lot sooner?) in physical tasks. There was a demo of a small UAV that could fly up and "stick" to a wall using a maneuver impossible for a human controller to emulate (this is not the same as the MIT UAVs that can perch). Also, there were the Stanford (?) micro-helicopters which "learned" acrobatic stunts from their controllers and surpassed them. I heard of a unmanned car that could perform on of those crazy slide sideways into a parking space maneuvers. And then of course there is "Big Dog" which can take a flying kick and keep walking.

    It is interesting that most sci-fi movies portray robots as powerful, even indestructible but slow and sometimes clumsy. I can think of only one movie where they had a robot that was clearly Man's physical (as well as mental) superior ; the panther like military robot in "Red Planet". It stalked and "played" with its human prey, wounding but not killing in order to slow the group down (I seem to remember).

    Of course what's really going on is that this is just a side effect of Kurzweil's predictions. Motors and metals aren't getting much better but the processors and algorithms that run on them are. A good example might be from one of William Gibson's novels where ordinary drones and shrubbery sheering robots become tools of murder in the hands of the A.I.

    I no longer login because I feel that while attacking a company's products is fair game (specifically Apple), having stories singling out their users as "selfish" and unkind is not "news for nerds stuff that matters". Am I an Apple fanboi? Let's just say I've used NIX for decades (yes I'm old) and I'm not talking OS X.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:46AM (#33158844)

    most sci-fi movies portray robots as powerful, even indestructible but slow and sometimes clumsy

    I think the trend decreases as the ability to produce special effects increases ; clunky slow robots in movies appear to be caused by clunky slow SFX.

    Other notable exceptions to the clunky and slow law, excepting robots / cyborgs played by human actors ; the NX 6 class robot bodies in I, Robot, any robot in the Matrix trilogy, the robot spiders in Minority Report.

  • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:11AM (#33158900)

    Motors and metals aren't getting much better but the processors and algorithms that run on them are.

    Micro-controllers are great for prototyping, but couldn't this particular example be made purely out of something that resembles the mechanism inside a wooden grandfather's clock (without any sort of processor whatsoever). There would still be the question of making the claws of course, but I'm leaving this question for someone else who's smarter than me. From the video, I'm not even sure how the claws work currently. Does anyone else think that the wall they're using is probably gritty? and that the robot is barely hanging on by the very tip of its fingernails/little claws?

    Of course, even if I'm right, which I'm not even sure I am, it wouldn't negate the rest of your thesis, especially with the many other types of robots that absolutely need processors to maintain their balance/movements.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @06:51AM (#33159428) Journal

    Actually humans are to a quite large degree self-repairing. For quite a long time they also managed to survive without replacement parts (the survival rate is much higher now that we have the ability to repair beyond self-repair, and to make replacement parts of certain body parts, though). You've got a point with energy supplies, although humans are quite flexible in what they can use as energy supply (basically, most living things will do), and can survive quite some time between energy refills. On the other hand, a few days without water will kill a human. And without air, the survival time is measured in minutes.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer