How Our Colony On Mars Will Get Built

Absolutely amazing development in robotics…

According to the Wall Street Journal, Harvard University researchers have developed autonomous robots inspired by termites or ants.

They can build complex structures by working in a group or swarm.

Each robot is independent, yet by being programmed with the target structure, they work harmoniously together to build the structure without further guidance.

They have sensors along with a set of rules that enable them to interact with each other and the environment to get the job done.

They can even build stairs to enable themselves to get to higher levels of the structure and add the next set of building bricks.

The robots are 8″ by 4.5″ with pinwheel tires for traction and are powered by off-the-shelf motors.

“Each robot ‘walks around the structure until it sees something that needs to be done and then does it…they can recognize errors and correct them.'”

Perhaps, the robots can not only learn from the termites, but we can learn from the robots. πŸ˜‰

Halo Arrives To Our Warfighters

So excited about the Army’s experimental Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS).

This is really our fast, strong, and agile fighting force of the future.

The integration of technologies for the individual warfighter, including sensors, exoskeleton body armor, weapon systems, communications, and monitoring of health and power makes this an unbelievable advance.

I think the MIT research on magnetorheological fluids–which convert from liquid to solid body armor in milliseconds (sort of like Terminator 2) with a magnetic field or electric current (controlled, so the enemy doesn’t bog down the forces) is a true game changer for balancing agility and force protection.

In the future, I believe these suits will even incorporate capabilities to drive, dive, and fly.

This will complement unmanned swarms of dumb drones with intelligent human fighters that will take the battlefield on Earth and beyond. πŸ˜‰

Emperor Titus and The Micro-Drones

The Talmud tells of how the wicked Roman Emperor Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 AD was punished with a small insect that flew into his nose and gnawed at his brain for seven years.

By the time Titus died, they opened his skull and found the insect had grown to the size of a bird–the lesson was that Titus thought that he was so powerful with his legions, but G-d showed him that even a little insect sent by G-d could defeat him.

Now when I watch this amazing video from the Air Force about micro-drones, I see this story come to life all over again.

With Micro Air Vehicles, little drones the size of insects can carry out missions from surveillance to lethal targeting of enemy forces.

They can fly, hover, perch, power up, sneak up, sense, communicate, and attack.

With these micro-drones, especially in swarms, these small packages of sensors and weapons can bring a big wallop for our warfighters.

And like with Emperor Titus, you would not want these buzzing around and giving you big headaches–because these little buggers will be able to take down the mightiest of foes. πŸ˜‰

The Anti-Drone Drone

The Anti-Drone Drone

Last week FOX News reported on how the British were deploying tiny drones that can now fit in the palm of one’s hand. The Black Hornet Nano is only 4 inches long, weighs about half an ounce, and carries a camera that can take stills and video and transmit them back to a remote terminal.

Drones are becoming ubiquitous weapons of war, homeland security, law enforcement and more.

As other nations advance their drone programs, our efforts must not only be offensively, but also defensive–The Guardian reported (22 April 2012) that Iran has already claimed to have reverse engineered the Sentinel drone they captured in 2011 and are making a copy of it–lending some credence to this perhaps, this past week, they also showed surveillance footage that they claim came from the captured drone.

So how do you protect against drones-big and small?

While you can lock on and shoot down a big Predator drone out of the sky, drones as small as tiny bugs are going to be a lot harder to defend against.

The bug-like drones may not only carry surveillance equipment in the future, but could even carry a lethal injection, chemical or biological agents to disable or kill, or perhaps even weapons of mass destruction.

Moreover, they may not attack onsies-twosies, but in mass swarms like locusts ready to swoop down and destroy our crops, our lines of communications, and all sort of critical infrastructure.

The Atlantic (6 Feb. 2013) describes the idea for a “Drone-Proof City” of the future that someone came up with for an extreme architecture class.

Like cities in World War II that camouflaged entire sections with green military netting and other subterfuges, the idea here would be to create a “sanctuary” or “compound” that would provide a safe-zone from drones.

Whether using tall Minarets, cooling towers, other high-rise buildings and even window grills to obstruct the drones, or a “latticed roof” to create distracting shade patterns, or a climate-controlled city interior that could confuse heat-seeking missiles–all good ideas are welcome.

Of course, their are other options too such as anti-drone laser system that could shoot them down, electronic countermeasures that could confuse, self-destruct, or other take control of them, or even anti-drone drones–that would be specialized drones that could seek and destroy enemy drones in waiting or about to attack.

Drones everywhere–and nowhere to hide–we will need some extreme architecture to take out these buggers. πŸ˜‰

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ars Electronica)

The Guardian of Israel

“The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalms 121:4)

Much is being celebrated about Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system with approximately 90% success rate for shooting down incoming missiles threatening populated areas and critical infrastructure.

However, Foreign Policy Magazine (20 November 2012) is touting another amazing advance by Israel, this time in robotic weapons systems.

It is called The Guardian Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), and it is made by G-NIUS.

It’s a fully armored vehicle with 660 pounds of electronic sensors and weapons.

The Guardian can autonomously “run patrol of predetermined routes” or it can be controlled via remote or mobile command center.

– It can run at 50 miles per hour, has powerful off-road capability, and an robust obstacle detection and avoidance system.

– Guardian can carry 1.2 tons of ammunition and supplies.

– The robotic vehicle is outfitted with all-weather video and thermal cameras, microphones, loudspeakers, and electronic countermeasures.

– It alerts to suspicious activity, identifies sources of fire, and by human operator can open fire with “auto-taret acquisition”.

This versatile weaponized robot can be used for force protection or to guard strategic assets, it can be used for perimeter, border or convey security, and for combat or logistical support missions.

It is easy to see how UGVs like this, especially in concert with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can take on the enemy and help keep the troops out of harm’s way.

For the future of UGVs and UAVs, think of a swarm, with masses of robots managing the battlefield both with and without human operators, and the vision of Star Wars on the ground and in space is just generations of robots away.

Robot Fighters Coming Soon

Maars
I love keeping up with the latest in robotics, especially when it comes to battlefield versions.
The Wall Street Journal (19 August 2011) featured QinetiQ’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) today as “America’s Newest Soldiers.”
MAARS features tank treads, days and night vision cameras, a 4-barrel 40mm high-explosive grenade launcher, and a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
“It can stand sentry at a checkpoint and warn people away with a police style hailer, a nonblinding laser, tear gas or smoke grenades. Β As a last resort, it can fire lethal rounds.”
Watching this thing, I imagine the D Day landings in Normandy would’ve looked a lot different with a swarm of these fellows landing on those bullet-riddled beaches.
The nature of the fight is changing and whoever stands in front of one of these armed robots (and even better next generation versions to come) better be prepared to say “bye bye, it was nice knowing you.” Β πŸ˜‰
(Source Photo: here)