Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Robots to the rescue!

Literally, robots to the rescue...an interesting article in the NYTimes Science section featured a "Woodstock" for robots that have been explicitly designed to work as rescue workers.  I've seen some videos of Boston Dynamics dog-like robots and they're disturbingly amazing.  But as this article makes clear, it's the Japanese that are the major players in this subset of robotic development:
The Darpa event has been described as a grand challenge to open the way for an era in which a generation of mobile robots will aid in disaster situations, traveling and working where humans cannot. The research agency is trying to develop systems that could be used in situations like the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The fact that there were no robots that could quickly be called upon in that emergency led to consternation in Japan, a nation that has prided itself on its advanced robots.
It's a fascinating article, one that you should definitely read if you have any interest in the growing area of robotics.  My take on it is that the not-too-distant future is going to feature way more robots than the average American has any inkling of...and, personally, I think that's a great thing!