July 18 Automation & Robotics News — Tony Zaragoza

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Automation and Robotics News–July 18, 2010

Highlights: New organization by topic including terror, military & policing, industry, job displacement, government,

STUDENTS: MEET YOUR NEW TEACHER! Andrea Thomaz, right, and Nick DePalma in 2009 with Simon, a robot being developed at Georgia Tech.

industry, agriculture, business of robotics and automation, research and new developments…


Korean machine-gun robots start DMZ duty

Tim Hornyak  ·  Wed Jul 14 2010 – CNET

Samsung’s SGR-1 robot has already starred in an action film. Now the machine gun-toting badass is taking on intruders along Korea’s DMZ.

Countries Look To Robot Armies For Border Defense

Huffington Post (blog) – Jul 14, 2010

He says we could have underground robots that will pop up and give border-crossers heart attacks. They could be forty feet tall, breathe fire and look like …
South Korea’s DMZ Sentry Robot Is Licensed to Kill

There are few borders more heavily guarded than the one dividing North and <http://gizmodo.com/tag/southkorea/>South Korea. That became even more true last month, when Seoul stationed a a heat-, voice-, and motion-detecting surveillance robot in the Demilitarized Zone. With guns.

Lockheed Using Gravity to Spot ‘Subterranean Threats’

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/drummk/>Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |

The military could soon be hunting for terror threats using detailed maps of the planet’s subterranean territory — thanks to aerial vehicles that tap into the “anomalous gravity signature[s]” of structures built beneath the earth’s surface. Lockheed Martin has received a $4.8 million, 12-month contract to create a prototype sensor that spots, categorizes and maps man-made facilities concealed underground. And does it all from the safety of the sky, embedded in a drone and linked to cameras that’d stream the data in real-time.

In a First, Full-Sized Robo-Copter Flies With No Human Help

Olivia Koski July 14, 2010

In mid-June, a single-turbine helicopter took off from a test field in Mesa, Arizona, avoided obstacles during flight, scoped out a landing site and landed safely. It’s the kind of flight choppers have made tens of thousands of times before. Except this time, the helicopter did it entirely on its own — with no humans involved. It was the first fully autonomous flight of a full-sized chopper, ever.

Hydrogen-Powered Drone Could Be The iPad of Spy Planes

Spencer Ackerman, July 13, 2010

It can stay aloft in the stratosphere for up to four days, powered by hydrogen. It can carry up to 450 lbs. worth of spy gear And it sounds like a Bond villain. Meet the Phantom Eye. Its manufacturer thinks it could be the iPad of unmanned aerial vehicles. At a time when much of drone tech is shrinking, the Phantom Eye is a big mother. It’s got a 150-foot wingspan. The thing itself — unveiled by Boeing today — relies on two 2.3 liter, four cylinder engines that create 150 horsepower each, according to a company press release, allowing it to cruise at 150 knots. But the company didn’t specify much about its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, aside from issuing a vague quote assuring that the Phantom Eye “could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications.” So why is it an iPad-esque potential game-changer?

Darpa Plots Death >From Above, On-Demand

Noah Shachtman, July 12, 2010

Before a bomb gets dropped in Afghanistan, dozens of people weigh in: Air controllers bark coordinates over a radio; officers double-check the target’s location against digital maps; pilots survey the scene with cameras from on high; far-flung intelligence analysts scour the plane’s footage and discuss it in a secure chat room; military lawyers make sure the strike complies with the rules of war; commanders weigh the potential combat benefits of a bomb against the risks of civilian deaths. Darpa would like to cut out all those middle men. . . .


Ford Motor India Hires Robots

07/09/10, India Real Time, WSJ

At Ford Motor India’s Chennai plant, a team of robots has been drafted in to cope with surging demand. Ninety-two of the high-tech robots are installed across the plant and take on up to 30% of the total workload. This includes mostly repetitive tasks, such as applying successive coats of paint, . . .


Cultibotics: literally green robotics

John Payne on 04 Jul 2010

The application of robotics to ecologically robust crop production has been a long-term interest of mine (see http://cultibotics.blogspot.com ), long enough that I’ve had plenty of opportunity for despair at the slow pace of progress. That situation now seems to be turning around. I am aware of a few examples of relevant projects, but would greatly appreciate assistance in accumulating others.


ParkPlus automation will cause 33 city job losses

Calgary Herald – Jul 9, 2010

The Calgary Parking Authority’s shift to ParkPlus in its downtown parkades will mean layoffs for 33 full-time and part-time parking attendants. Starting in August with the convention centre parkade, the city-owned agency will phase out the facility’s attendants and security entry-exit arms, replacing them with the same computerized system used for surface lots and street parking. “Many of our competitors already have automation in their facilities, and, indeed, we are following that trend,” he said. The affected workers have been …


Report on poll fraud: plug gaps, or nix automation

Business Mirror – Fernan Marasigan – Jun 27, 2010

SPORADIC cheating in the country’s first automated general elections last month appears to be confined to local races, the chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms has concluded. But these, taken with the “fitful credibility” with which technical provider Smartmatic-TIM explained crucial date-and-time stamp issues in the vote-counting machine,. . .


Seattle to be Last Stop on Siemens Answers for Industry Tour

Learn How Energy Efficiency, Automation and Services are Transforming Business

ATLANTA, Jul 15, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — After nearly 3,000 attendees in five cities, Siemens Industry, Inc. today announced that the sixth and final stop for its Answers for Industry (AFI) conference will be Seattle. The two-day conference, which focuses on enhancing competitiveness through efficient manufacturing, green buildings and renewable energy, will take place Aug. 24-25, 2010, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Wash.

Robots as the next big industry?

Computerworld -Patrick Thibodeau – Jul 14, 2010

ATLANTA — The hardest thing about artificial intelligence (AI) is keeping your imagination in check. A visit to some robotic displays at an AI conference here opens the mind to incredible possibilities.  Imagine, for instance, CNBC’s Jim Cramer, who just about jumps up and down when he talks about the “mobile Internet tsunami,” doing something similar for the “robotics tsunami” as the next big industry. It is that kind of thinking that AI can trigger. However, for the wonder of watching a robot with expressive eye movements, there is a competing reality that progress is slow. For a sense of the timeline, the Conference on Artificial Intelligence marks its silver anniversary next year.

Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot


LOS ANGELES — The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion.  The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms.  “Like Simon Says,” says the autistic boy’s mother, seated next to him on the floor. Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall.  But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high.  Up goes the boy’s arm — . . .


The Robotic Butterfly That Flies Like The Real Thing


The ChouChou Robotic Butterfly is just like a real butterfly, except it can live forever. Or at least until its battery runs out. You won’t even know the difference, just watch it fly.

Oceanscience Group wins grant to develop swarming river robots


The Oceanscience Group, an Oceanside technology company, has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I contract by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Oceanscience’s institutional collaborator on the project is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center for Ocean Engineering.  Oceanscience will work with MIT Professor Henrik Schmidt to develop a fleet of self-organizing drifting floats that will survey rivers autonomously. These small “smart” floats will travel in intercommunicating groups . . .

Centipede Robot

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a microrobot with 512 feet. The robot is about the size of a fingernail and weighs about half a gram. Each of the 512 robot feet consists of an electrical wire sandwiched between two materials that expand differently under heat. By passing a current through the electrical wire, one material expands more than the other, making the feet curl. The small size of the feet results in a very large surface area . . .

QinetiQ’s Zephyr Unmanned Aircraft Soars to New World Records

07.16.2010 — Solar solar powered high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air system doubles the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight and is expected to continue flying. QinetiQ announced that Zephyr, a solar powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) smashed a number of long-standing world records while flying for a week.  Flying high above the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Zephyr has passed the seven day / 168 hour mark and the clock is still running. This DOUBLES the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008 and already held by Zephyr, and is well in excess of the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001.  As a bold statement of intent QinetiQ invited . . .

Robot Submarine Patrols Lake Michigan for Climate-Change Study
Autonomous underwater robots studies fish populations.

07.06.2010 — Purdue University researchers are using an autonomous underwater vehicle in Lake Michigan to study how the changing physical properties of water affect the larva of fish yellow perch and alewives. Researchers at Purdue University are using a robotic submarine and other specialized tools in Lake Michigan to gather biological and environmental data showing how young fish vital to the ecosystem may cope with future climate change. The researchers are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations, said Tomas Höök, an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Human Trials Next for Darpa’s Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm

Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |  WIRED Dangerroom

Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.

Another Edition of: Just Exactly Why Do We Need the Music Business?

Just Exactly Why Do We Need the Music Business?

“…by the midnineties, we could see that digital music would soon be forcing change on the recording industry….Spyder [husband and collaborator] was fascinated by the impact on the actual music and the limitless creative possibilities that the digital age ushered into the studio…. What I was after was simple: the end of the record industry as we knew it. I wanted to see the collapse of the major labels’ stronghold on music…. If the labels didn’t get on board with the digital age, they would implode. And since we despised the way they did business, we figured we’d be only too happy to stand by and watch it happen.”

— from Between a Heart and a Rock Place, the autobiography of Pat Benatar with Patsi Bale Cox


Day 91 — Roxanne Amico

Day 91: Bev’s take + Our stake in the story by Roxanne Amico

Posted on July 20, 2010 by dandelionsalad

by Roxanne Amico
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Spirit Morph Studio
July 20, 2010

Today is DAY NINETY-ONE in the BP crimes against our planet and people.  The corporatacracy of US-BP wants you to believe that because (they SAY) the “leak” is capped, the story is happily ended. NOT. First, the leak is NOT stopped.  Second, the story of their lies and murderous ways continues below.  Below first is a quote apropos to this post, and then

Pointe Aux Chenes, LA -- July 19: A crane flies past an oiled marsh. Officials are concerned about leakage near the reportedly capped well. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty images)

my commentary, and then another installment of (33) excerpts and links about what’s going on a mile below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, while the ticker tape tells us more tricks… [NOTE: I’ve been aiming for shorter more frequent posts with fewer links, but since my last post, my car has given me serious headaches and taken up a lot of energy and time.  I don’t like when my job and personal life derail my work, but sometimes I just have to ride that wave…Thankfully, writing is one of my rafts on that river…] Read more by clicking here.

Been in the Storm Too Long — David Hinckley in the NY Daily News

[This film, directed by Jonathan Demme, aired on PBS Wednesday evening.  Daniel Wolff, essayist and poet, whose work How Lincoln Learned to Read has been featured on this blog, helped produce this film. — Lew Rosenbaum]

Tavis Smiley’s ‘Been in the Storm Too Long’ focuses on life after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

David Hinckley

Wednesday, July 21st 2010, 4:00 AM

Mathew Imaging Rocker Lenny Kravitz (l.) and PBS host Tavis Smiley discuss hurricane Katrina woes that have beset New Orleans as its citizens fight to rebuild their homes.

“Been in the Storm Too Long,” Wednesday night at 8 on PBS

Tavis Smiley does everything short of playing the theme from “Rocky” in “Been in the Storm Too Long,” this pugnacious and inspiring look at the people of New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina almost washed their city off the map.

Smiley portrays its residents as perpetual underdogs who compensate for a lack of resources with pure spirit.

He had finished most of this special when the BP oil well blew, piling more trauma onto the Gulf region, and he addresses the spill briefly in an early segment. The heart of the special, however, lies with the people who have refused to let Katrina chase them away.

Speaking mostly to black residents and musicians like Branford Marsalis, Smiley comes across as an unapologetic advocate and cheerleader, pulling for New Orleans to resurrect itself despite debilitating indifference from the government and insurance companies.

He cites the battle of Lower Ninth Ward residents to get their schools restored, recognizing that if returning families can expect no decent education system, rebuilt housing has far less value.

To compound the problem, New Orleans schools didn’t function that well before Katrina. So Smiley focuses on a charter school, emphasizing how hard school officials pushed to get a decent building and operating cash.

He notes that some government officials seemed to discourage rebuilding in the Lower Ninth Ward, suggesting the land be turned into parks or sold to developers.

Community resistance short-circuited those plans.

Meanwhile, in the more affluent Ponchartrain Park neighborhood, Smiley’s subjects point more to insurance companies as the obstacle to repopulation. Many residents there say they were not paid enough to rebuild and come back.

Not surprisingly, Smiley both endorses their struggle and plants himself in the middle of many segments. Yes, that’s Tavis frying up crawfish and wiggling into a massive Mardi Gras costume.

He does something riskier but effective when he ties the post-Katrina struggle to the turmoil created in 1960 when New Orleans had to integrate its schools.

A single black child, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges, was escorted into the Frantz school by U.S. marshals. All the white parents withdrew their children, leaving Ruby alone with just her teacher, Mrs. Henry, for the entire school year.

That’s not the most flattering historical side of New Orleans. Nor is the fact that many of those parents demonstrated outside the school throughout the year, holding props like a small casket with a black doll inside.

Smiley talks with Bridges, still a New Orleans resident, and she suggests things in general are better today though far from ideal.

She says that in retrospect, her mission was to raise hope and possibility, and Smiley’s special underscores the point effectively: Those remain the test and the trial for New Orleans today.


[Here is a link to Daniel Wolff’s guest blog on the Tavis Smiley Reports site; “Why I’m Dedicated to New Orleans.”]