These days, the Croatian company Hipersfera presented an autonomous airship, that is designed to fulfill border control and survaillance tasks. It looks like a small sphere in the shape of a camera lense, as it is shown within the video below. This Helium filled sphere is able to float over a survaillance target without making much noise. While the real airship should come in a size of around 40 diameter, the prototype actually offers around 3.5 meter. This announcement comes right after the US Army declared the recreation of traditional airship technology, so it seems as if Zeppelin’s technology is still interesting.
“Spatially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly,” a work by Nithin Mathews, Anders Lyhne Christensen, Rehan O’Grady, and Marco Dorigo, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto Universitario de Lisboa, was presented at IROS 2012 in Vilamoura, Portugal. The video shows their research on swarm robots that team up even with a flying AR-Drone, in order to fulfill combined tasks together. A really nice aspect is that the drones working together as a group are highlighted by using different light colors. As the ground drones are not able to scan large areas, they are directly cooperating with the flying AR-drone to get a detailed overview on the sourounding area. You can find details on this work on Spacially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly within their recent paper.
The following image from NASA’s Curiosity rover was taken by the left mast camera (Mastcam). It shows an image of the camera on the rover’s robotic arm, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), during the 30th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars. MAHLI is one of the various tools that sit on the end of Curiosities robotic arm and is used to explore the near surrounding on Mars. After several days traveling and driving on Mars NASA’s rover Curiosity starts to test these tools on it’s robotic arm. NASA is spending several days preparing for full use of the tools on its arm.
“We will be putting the arm through a range of motions and placing it at important ‘teach points’ that were established during Earth testing, such as the positions for putting sample material into the inlet ports for analytical instruments,” said Daniel Limonadi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., lead systems engineer for Curiosity’s surface sampling and science system. “These activities are important to get a better understanding for how the arm functions after the long cruise to Mars and in the different temperature and gravity of Mars, compared to earlier testing on Earth.”
The image below shows the exact location of the arm on NASA’s Curiosity rover, in addition to the arm’s turret, which holds two instruments and three tools. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech:
Despite the fact, that there are already some Quadcopter and Tricopter designs out there (see Mapmaking Quadcopter, Quadcopter), the creator of this Tricopter accomplished to build a fully functional and quite agile model without spending more than 100$. Even the cheapest Quadcopters cost at least several hundred dollars. His Tricopter design builds upon cheap body parts from a local hardware store, such as a wooden Tricopter body. [via Hackedgadgets]
MIT researchers recently published a video of their highly agile autonomous plane drone that is able to navigate through indoor locations. Their video shows a good overview how the autonomous plane is able to automatically build a navigation map out of a laser range finder scanner and to find its way through indoor locations.
Traditionally, these environments have been dominated by quadcopters or similar air drones. The minimalistic design of this plane allows low cost survaillance tasks within indoor locations, such as parking garages, as it is shown within the video below.
The Laboratory for Intelligent Systems at the university of Lausanne LIS invented the AirBurr, which is a selflanding air vehicle that can fly indoors without crashing when bumping against walls or crashing onto the floor. The drone is designed for maneuvering through devasted environments and to bounce gainst obstacles and to continue flight. It should offer most robust flight capabilities for desaster recon missions.
ArcBotics published their pledge for 13.000$ on Kickstarter, in order to fund a low-cost six-legged open source robot (known as a Hexapod). As the robotic hobby is quite expensive, this Kickstarter project will give all hobby robotic developers the possibility to get their hands on a Hexabot with open software and hardware design for around 400$. The entire Hexapod kit comes in some really nice color kits and is completely compatible with Arduino software and Hardware. The team also updated shortly that if they will hit the 200K $ mark they will add a programming language support for drag-and-drop programming GUI based on miniBloq, with which they are definitely on the right track. The entire hardware and software design will be published as open source, so there are no limits for additional robotic apps and new hardware features.
After the experiences they made with getting an overview about the damage the tsunami spring wave in Japan caused last year, OpenRelief designed a cheap open source desaster relief drone. OpenRelief is a collaborative effort of 12 professionals from around the globe to create a prototype drone that can fly itself into and out of disaster zones to take photos and video and map roads, people and smoke. Sensors will measure weather conditions and radiation. That critical information can then be sent to relief workers on the ground.