Abstracts in this Pattern:
Novel sensors and actuators, improved algorithms, new materials, and improved connectivity and robot architectures are enabling developers to give robots new capabilities, as the following examples illustrate:
- Electronics company Murata Manufacturing (Kyoto, Japan) has developed a squad of robotic cheerleaders. The company's 36-centimeter-tall robots use gyroscopic sensors to balance on a ball and conduct synchronized dance routines. A central control system employs wireless communication to coordinate the squad. Meanwhile, ultrasonic microphones measure positions and distances, and infrared sensors use flashes of infrared light to monitor locations.
- Researchers at Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) have developed an unusual mobile robot with a soft, pneumatic body that is 0.65 meters long and particularly resistant to adverse environments. In addition to being able to shrug off snow and puddles, the robot can survive exposure to flames and being run over by an automobile.
- Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, Massachusetts) developed a football-size submarine that can deploy in swarms to inspect the hulls of passing ships for hidden compartments. The devices feature stealthy propulsion systems, which reportedly prevent them from generating waves on the surface of the water. These robot swarms could assist in national-security efforts and perhaps prevent nefarious activities such as smuggling.
Advances in robotics could enable the creation of useful new products for the defense, security, and even entertainment sectors.
The Development of this Pattern
Murata Manufacturing has developed a squad of robotic cheerleaders.
Researchers at Harvard University and Cornell University have developed a mobile robot that is particularly resistant to adverse environments.
Researchers at MIT developed a small football-size submarine that can deploy in swarms to inspect the hulls of passing ships.
Prototypes demonstrate the improving mobility, resilience, and stealth capabilities of robots.
- SoC095 — Robots Learning New Moves and Moods (March 2005)
Building learning capabilities into robots is the next step in robotics. If robots can learn, their creators don't have to program them with knowledge of the infinite number of potential situations the robots will face.
- P0347 — Fantastic Voyage: Robots in the Body (May 2012)
Researchers are considering new types of devices that they can embed or release in the body of a patient to deliver medical treatment. Some of the devices are simple and wireless, and others are fairly sophisticated diagnostics tools.
- SoC600 — Roaming Machines (August 2012)
This Signal of Change elaborates on developments indicating that the use of autonomous vehicles is at an inflection point: Lab-tested technologies are moving to real-world applications.
- P0405 — Robotics Enablers (October 2012)
A wide set of technologies and approaches could enable future robots to operate, think, move, and behave efficiently and effectively.
- SoC712 — Robots Expand Their Commercial Footprint (March 2014)
Continuing robotics R&D is improving robots' computational and mechanical capabilities.
- SoC740 — Swarm Robotics (July 2014)
The ability of robots to coordinate and collaborate autonomously could expand application areas for robotics tremendously.