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Latest Robotics News


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has published a solicitation for simplified artificial intelligence (AI) computers modeled on insect brains, some of which include less than 1,000 neurons. DARPA seeks AI systems that require less power, data and complexity than conventional approaches to AI.

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Byron Spice reported from Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) that NREC is building the largest robot in its 22-year history. “Its 45-foot-tall gantry, visible from Pittsburgh’s 40th Street Bridge, was built as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prototyping project to automate its annual mat-sinking operations on the Mississippi River. The massive mats, which consist of concrete blocks wired together, shield riverbanks from erosion, helping to protect levees and ensure safe river navigation.
“As big as it is, the prototype robot being built on NREC’s front lawn will serve only to test and further develop systems that will become part of the final, much larger robot – a floating factory called ARMOR 1 – that eventually will be deployed on barges on the Mississippi.”

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These were once the stuff of science fiction. But the U.S. Army has a program, today, called Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) that attests to the rise of the machine. The Army already has a robot test vehicle: an armed, remote-controlled M113 armored personnel carrier, and is vigorously pursuing autonomous trucks that can haul supplies without a driver. Notable in the fighting machine category is the MAARS, a QinetiQ North America armed remote-control semi-autonomous mini-tank, shown here.
New automated vehicles and weapons systems were shown at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) defense exposition that took place this October in Washington, D.C. Examples at AUSA included the optionally-manned Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle and semi-autonomous vehicles such as the tracked Titan scout armed with a .50 caliber machine gun, the wheeled Hunter Wolf “killer golf cart,” and the machine-gun-and grenade-launcher toting MAARS robot being tested to backup Marine squads.”

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The new Guinness World Record for the heaviest payload lifted by a drone is now held by the Forvola Mega Drone. This very impressive machine is the result of a collaborative effort by FPT Industrial and Forvola, and was recently shown during FPT Industrial’s Tech day.

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Jon Bornstein, president and chief operating officer of Amprius, the Sunnyvale, California-based company that provided high energy-density lithium-ion cells for the Airbus’ record-breaking Zephyr solar-powered stratospheric unmanned aircraft, says Amprius is working with electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) developers. Their new cells have a specific energy of 435 Wh/kg, compared to the 300-325 Wh/kg of conventional lithium-ion batteries. The secret is in the new silicon nanowire anode.

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