Search results for: mars-one robot

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NASA Scientists Control Robotic Arm With Kinect And Oculus Rift

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NASA JACORobots in space — two great tastes that taste great together. They might go to Mars ahead of the humans to set up facilities, 3-D printed robotic spiders might build spacecraft, and robots might make isolated astronauts less lonely. Yet another robotics advancement at NASA pairs humans and robots, allowing humans to control the actions of robotic counterparts using a good ol’ Microsoft Kinect and something called the Oculus Rift.

The Kinect sensor provides the position tracking, while the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset allows for rotational tracking and the first-person experience one gets when playing a game in virtual reality. When the user has the view he needs, he can perform tasks which control the real-time movements of robotic arm. NASA has been using a JACO robotic arm developed by Kinova, a Canadian company that specializes in rehabilitation and research. The arm has three fingers, six degrees of freedom, and is designed to represent a “new generation of lightweight portable robotic manipulators.”

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Meet Valkyrie, NASA’s Superhero Robot

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ValkyrieWe’ve done lots of posts here on GFR about NASA, many of which bemoan the state and the budget of the beleaguered agency. Now NASA has something that just may solve all of its problems — a superhero robot.

Valkyrie, who shares a name with female characters from Norse mythology who decide which soldiers die and which live, but who looks more like Iron Man, has the stature of a superhero at 6 feet tall and 275 pounds — it even sports a glowing NASA logo on its front. Engineers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston built Valkyrie in just nine months as part of this month’s DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. This means Valkyrie will have to prove its disaster-thwarting meddle by driving vehicles, clearing debris, cutting through obstructions, climbing ladders, turning valves and knobs, and other physical tasks that any life-saving superhero needs to be able to perform.

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Robots Run This Space-Themed Chinese Hotel

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Pengheng Space Capsules Hotel Okay, China. You win. A space-themed hotel is pretty badass, but staffing it with robots? Total genius.

Given that most of us can’t shell out $250,000 to buy a ticket to low-Earth orbit on a Virgin Galactic spacecraft, we can at least pretend to be in space for only $11 a night if we can get ourselves to Shenzhen, China.

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Mars Colony Proposal Would Send Robots Ahead To Carve Out Underground Facilities

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SurfaceWe’ve heard a lot about Mars, and the dream of sending humans there, in recent years. The landing of the Curiosity rover put both the red planet, and space exploration in general, back in the headlines in a way it hadn’t been in a while. Hell, there’s even a reality show offering to make a select few volunteers the very first Mars colonists (although it’s a one-way trip). But while mankind has been dreaming of leaving human bootprints in Mars’ red soil for decades, figuring out the logistics of how to make it happen are challenging to say the least. Not only do you have to get people there safely, you have to ensure their survival once they get there. Now a group of German architects is proposing a clever way to create permanent buildings on Mars before any humans arrive. They’re heading underground.

ZA Architects’ vision of Mars settlement involves sending specialized robots ahead of any human missions. Once on Mars, the ‘bots would begin digging into Mars’ surface to create underground facilities, which would then be ready and waiting for astronauts/colonists to inhabit and finish out. The plan would take advantage of Mars’ soil, which is rich in basalt. As the architects’ website explains, “Basalt is good material to make a protectional cave on, to produce insulation, and basalt roving, which is stronger than steel.”

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Buzz Aldrin Endorses One-Way Trip To Mars, Here’s Why

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Buzz AldrinI have a feeling we’ll be debating the merits of the Mars One plan for the next decade or so, and perhaps even after the actual colonization mission is underway (if that indeed happens). I’ve been pretty critical about certain aspects of the plan, namely the reality television funding model, and people who know way more about the science than I do have expressed skepticism about whether the current mission model is feasible. The UAE even issued a fatwa against Muslims traveling to Mars, likening the endeavor to suicide. But not everyone is down on the idea of sending human colonists on a one-way trip to Mars. On Wednesday, the idea received got vocal support from a pretty compelling person: Buzz Aldrin.

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Mars One Simulation Offers Grim Predictions For The Mission

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mars-oneThe Dutch nonprofit Mars One aim to send four humans to Mars in 2024 (two years later than in their original timeline) for a 2025 landing on the Red Planet. These four intrepid colonists will be joined by 4 more two years later, and then 4 more two years after that, until the colony reaches 24. Or at least, that’s the plan. But according to strategic engineering graduate students at MIT, the strategy, as it currently exists, may prove problematic. Unless the program makes some fundamental changes to its approach, the researchers predict that the new colony will be unsustainable and deadly for the colonists.

The team developed a simulation of the settlement, per Mars One’s stated mission design. That simulation provided them with a tool to measure and predict how using the resources on the planet, growing crops, and future resupply efforts, will play out. Of course, this is just a model—no one can say with certainty how the mission will unfold, but creating and studying such models is one of strategy any Mars colonization mission organizers should rely on for insight about how to make their mission safer and, hopefully, more successful.