Tag Archives: robotics in war

How to Navigate the Rubble: DARPA

Rescue robot

Imagine a natural disaster scenario, such as an earthquake, that inflicts widespread damage to buildings and structures, critical utilities and infrastructure, and threatens human safety. Having the ability to navigate the rubble and enter highly unstable areas could prove invaluable to saving lives or detecting additional hazards among the wreckage.

Dr. Ronald Polcawich, a DARPA program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO):”There are a number of environments that are inaccessible for larger robotic platforms. Smaller robotics systems could provide significant aide, but shrinking down these platforms requires significant advancement of the underlying technology.”

Technological advances in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), additive manufacturing, piezoelectric actuators, and low-power sensors have allowed researchers to expand into the realm of micro-to-milli robotics. However, due to the technical obstacles experienced as the technology shrinks, these platforms lack the power, navigation, and control to accomplish complex tasks proficiently

To help overcome the challenges of creating extremely [Size, Weight and Power] SWaP-constrained microrobotics, DARPA is launching a new program called SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms (SHRIMP). The goal of SHRIMP is to develop and demonstrate multi-functional micro-to-milli robotic platforms for use in natural and critical disaster scenarios. To achieve this mission, SHRIMP will explore fundamental research in actuator materials and mechanisms as well as power storage components, both of which are necessary to create the strength, dexterity, and independence of functional microrobotics platforms.

“The strength-to-weight ratio of an actuator influences both the load-bearing capability and endurance of a micro-robotic platform, while the maximum work density characterizes the capability of an actuator mechanism to perform high intensity tasks or operate over a desired duration,” said Polcawich. “

Excerpts from Developing Microrobotics for Disaster Recovery and High-Risk Environments: SHRIMP program seeks to advance the state-of-the art in micro-to-milli robotics platforms and underlying technology, OUTREACH@DARPA.MIL, July 17, 2018

Recyclable, Mini and Lethal: Drones and DARPA

network centric warfare. Image from wikipedia

From DARPA Website:  An ability to send large numbers of small unmanned air systems (UAS) with coordinated, distributed capabilities could provide U.S. forces with improved operational flexibility at much lower cost than is possible with today’s expensive, all-in-one platforms—especially if those unmanned systems could be retrieved for reuse while airborne. So far, however, the technology to project volleys of low-cost, reusable systems over great distances and retrieve them in mid-air has remained out of reach.

To help make that technology a reality, DARPA has launched the Gremlins program….The program envisions launching groups of gremlins from large aircraft such as bombers or transport aircraft, as well as from fighters and other small, fixed-wing platforms while those planes are out of range of adversary defenses. When the gremlins complete their mission, a C-130 transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours….With an expected lifetime of about 20 uses, Gremlins could fill an advantageous design-and-use space between existing models of missiles and conventional aircraft…

Excerpts from Friendly “Gremlins” Could Enable Cheaper, More Effective, Distributed Air Operations, DARPA Website, Aug. 28, 2015

See also Like Wolves Like Drones

How to Control a Robotic Arm by Thought: DARPA, the Brain and the Computer

A groundbreaking United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project has been awarded to the University of Melbourne in brain-computer interfacing.  In the United States alone, nearly two million people suffer from various disorders where control of limbs is severely impaired. In many of these patients, however, the portion of the brain responsible for movement remains intact, and it is disease and trauma to the spinal cord, nerves and muscles that limit mobility, function and independence. For these people, the ability to restore lost control at even a rudimentary level could lead to a greatly improved quality of life.

Dr Thomas Oxley, neurology trainee, Royal Melbourne Hospital has coordinated a multidisciplinary team, combining personnel from the Department of Medicine, and the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering), the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Howard Florey Neurosciences Institute, who have combined extensive research experience in the development of medical bionics, working with intravascular stents, experimentation on large animal models and electrophysiological recordings.

This innovative, minimally invasive approach of inserting electronic systems necessary to reliably acquire and transmit (central nervous system) CNS motor control information is a revolutionary advancement in the area of cortical signal processing….Tthis method would greatly enhance the success of the device by enabling the electrodes to be accurately positioned over the cortical area of interest. The ability for multiple implants to be inserted would allow both quick and reliable control of prosthetic attachments as well as the potential for feedback from prosthetic devices back to the cortex

“DARPA have committed to the development of a neural interface capable of controlling a prosthetic limb by thought,” says Principal Investigator Dr Thomas Oxley.

*DARPA Award No. N66001-12-1-4045

Excerpt, $1,067,200 million DARPA project awarded to the University of Melbourne, Research News University of Melbourne, June 2012