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April 02, 2012

Lecture at NASA Will Discuss At-sea Bots

Ocean research operations are about to transform, at least that is what Bill Vass, CEO of Liquid Robotics thinks. Vass will lecture at NASA’s Langley Research Center on Tuesday, April 3, and will discuss how the landscape of robotics is changing – quite literally – from land to sea.

“Where Cloud Meets the Ocean” will review the technologies in robotics that will help scientists are developing automatons that can operate for years under the ocean, trending technologies like cloud computing, wireless communications, GPS and smartphone computing.

Using these will give robots the ability to operate independently at sea for years, using their energy as gained from the environment. According to SpaceRef, Vass' customers include the energy, shipping, environmental, intelligence, communications, scientific, fisheries, and defense markets.

In other bot news, The US Army is testing the jumping robot, engineered by Boston Dynamics. Weighing 11 pounds, this automaton known as Sand Flea is a modified version of the erstwhile Precision Urban Hopper.

The bot is about the size and shape of an R/C car, but on command, it can go from driving to leaping straight up in the air. A special onboard stabilization system ensures it stays oriented as it hits heights up to 30 feet.

At the same time, an on-board video system can relay images back to a remote operator. The Sand Flea can use this ability to rapidly leap onto the roof of a building or on top of a hill in about a second.

This demonstration video of the robot in action shows the distance and angle it jumps, proving that, much like Spiderman, it can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

All of these advancements in robotics led to a special report on RobotXworld which says robotics could very well sync with the Mayan calendar’s end.

“….the tangential results of recent advancements in robotics technology, and robots will confirm world’s end with global domination by the end of 2012,” wrote the report.

Of course, this was published on April 1st, so you can easily see why it was just a bit of pseudo-science all in the name of fun.  

The jumping robot, however, is very real.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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