Search results for: autonomous

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Autonomous Helicopter Drones May Assist NASA’s Exploration Of Mars, Here’s How

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Mars HelicopterNASA’s rovers have provided a wealth of information about Mars over the years and continue to ramble on. Devices like Opportunity and Curiosity have been exploring the surface of the Red Planet for more than a decade now (Opportunity touched down 11 years ago yesterday), but for everything they’ve revealed to us, they’ve explored relatively little in the way of area. With potential manned missions to Mars ramping up, the space agency is looking to expand its efforts in this area, and to do so they’re considering taking to the sky.

The rugged surface and unforgiving terrain exact a hearty toll on the hardware on the ground and a hindrance to easy movement. To combat that, and provide a wider view, NASA is toying with the idea of autonomous drones to accompany future rovers. The Mars Helicopter could potentially be an addition to the future excursion, and could provide all kinds of useful functions.

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This Autonomous Robot Creates Interpretive Works Of Art

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robot paulOne of the abilities that distinguishes humans from animals is the ability to create art. Sure, animals do some cool stuff, but there’s usually a practical reason, rather than an aesthetic one (with the exception of the Kraken). Until fairly recently, humans figured that the desire and ability to create art separated us from robots too, but robotic musicians and other art-generating robots call this once-unique ability into question. Still, most of those robots are programmed to play, and it’s not as though they’re mechanical Beethovens, applying what they’ve learned about musical theory to their own skills to create unique scores. Recently, artist and roboticist Patrick Tresset decided to create a robot that can autonomously create artwork inspired by its own interpretation of its environment.

Tresset has been making robots for a while—namely, upgraded versions of a robot he calls Paul, which he calls a “creative prosthetic,” originally designed when he had a terrible case of painter’s block. A few years ago he created Paul and Pete (I have to wonder if there’s a Mary on the way), robots that sketched human faces using facial recognition technology and showed off their stuff at London’s Tenderpixel gallery. Now, many iterations later, Tresset has developed Paul-IX in an attempt to explore the question of whether robots can autonomously create “artifacts that stand as artworks”—specifically, artworks that comment on the human condition.

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U.S. Navy Has Swarming Autonomous Drone Boats

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navy-robot-boatRobots that assemble and swarm have been around for a while, but never like this. In addition to lasers that shoot down drones and robotic firefighters, the U.S. Navy now has automated boats that can launch a coordinated defense or attack on any threatening vessel in the water.

The advanced ship protection system is designed to prevent attacks such as the one on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. Navy ships would be accompanied by fleets equipped by Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS, a system that includes sensors and software that alert those boats to the presence of a threat on the water. When a suspicious vessel is identified, five ships in the fleet swarm to investigate.

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The Dutch Create The First Autonomous Flying Robot

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DelFlyFlying robots are nothing new (unless you’re Amazon), and neither, at this point, are robotic bees and remote-controlled cockroaches. But within this basic category of, there are still characteristics that set the new DelFly apart—namely, autonomy.

FlyTech Dragonfly

FlyTech Dragonfly

Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has created the first Micro Air Vehicle, or the first autonomous winged machine. They named it the DelFly Explorer, and it looks like a cross between a dragonfly and a kid’s paper airplane. It also weighs in like one, tipping the scales at a whopping.7 oz. With a design that combines a barometer, gyroscope, two cameras, and a microcontroller that performs all necessary processing, it flutters all on its own without the help of pesky humans. DelFly sees the world through its eye cameras, and adjusts to the environment, avoiding obstacles and other pitfalls. Unfortunately, its lifespan is a bit like that of its insect counterparts—9 minutes. But hey, the DelFly just needs to be charged back up for another go. I’d like to see a fruit fly do that.

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Autonomous Robo Faber Can Produce An Infinite Supply Of Abstract Art

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mechanical parts

Robot art is keen for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because one will never have to worry about a robot going slightly insane from something in the paint, causing it to cut its hearing mechanism out and send it to a whore. Another one of those reasons is, they don’t have any imagination, so anything they create is uninspired, but all the more amazing because of it. In rolls Robo Faber, the creation of Los Angeles artist, designer, and software creator Matthias Dörfelt. Forget about all those artistic animals that “paint” Pollock-spots. Robo Faber’s understanding of abstract fits more in line with my tastes.

Dörfelt was inspired by how the hand is used to create drawings, and used that logic in creating the algorithm that Robo Faber uses. It can connect the lines of the things it draws, but works in completely random ways, so it’s up to the beholder to make sense of what connections it has to our trials and tribulations in modern society. Or maybe it’s just lines. In any case, Robo Faber probably won’t be accused of forging its own work, as its programming allows for an endless number of unique sketches depicting things that almost look like they’re real. I’m picturing a little switch on the bottom that allows users to choose between “regular,” “bug,” and “dick-shaped.”

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Solar-Powered Autonomous Greenhouse Could Produce Fresh Spinach On Mars

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Popeye on MarsAs plans for a Mars colony are underway, at least preliminarily and tentatively, scores of questions arise about the logistics of supporting such a colony. Will people live under a dome? (Yes, until/unless we terraform Mars) What about radiation? And, most importantly, what will the Mars colonists have for dinner?

The answer: spinach.

A team from Greece recently won NASA’s Deployable Greenhouse Space Apps challenge. The challenge was for teams to design a deployable greenhouse small and light enough to stow aboard a spacecraft, that would require as few resources as possible, could function at low pressure, and could store plant-generated oxygen. Ideally, the greenhouse would also have a growing system, a system for recycling water, and a thermal control system.

The winning greenhouse, called “Popeye on Mars,” has an aeroponic system that can operate autonomously for 45 days, which is all the time needed for it to produce spinach. It can stabilize its internal environment, store oxygen, and harvest the spinach at the end of the 45-day cycle. It’s powered by photovoltaic panels that convert that pesky solar radiation into electricity via semiconductors, and is protected against the extreme conditions on the red planet.

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