Cybernetics update. it's a "biter"

Posted by Ralph | 5:52 PM

"Anna Konda, the fire-fighting snake robot has spawned three babies – Aiko, PiKo, and Kulko, which are smarter, more agile, and can take decisions on their own "

"While the US and Japan pursue the development of robots specialised in healthcare, social interaction, and artificial intelligence, scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have for the last six years dedicated their research efforts to create the most advanced snake robots in the world.

“They may be put into pipes in order to locate faults. They can get into strange places, or dangerous ones, like fires. We believe there is a market.” said Erik Kyrkjebo, the lead research scientist at SINTEF. It all started with Anna Konda in 2005, which was based on an idea that a hydraulic system could equip a fire hose to move on its own using strength of the water flow. Anna Konda could crawl into a burning house and put out a fire by itself, and would be capable of climbing stairs, sneaking around corners to perform lifesaving missions.

After four years the team have still not reached their goal, but Anna Konda has had three babies since – Aiko, PiKo, and Kulko.

The family has grown because the robot scientists needed more knowledge that could be transferred back to the original model.Aiko just weighs seven kilos as compared to Anna Konda’s 75, and serves as a experimental platform for testing mathematical equations and new electronic components.PiKo, the climbing robot differs from the other members of the snake family in that it moves on wheels, although, like its siblings, it is jointed. Specialised in vertical movement, it can climb up tubes, and propel its way up a pipe-wall.

The cybernetics experts have been working on its propulsion system, while optics researchers have given the little robot “vision”. A 3D camera, combined with map and position recognition enable it to compare the two parametres to check whether it is on the right track.“PiKo is designed to be able to cleanse ventilation systems and check leakages in pipework with diameters as small as 20 cm, both vertically and at junctions,” explains Jens Thielemann, scientist at Sintef.Now Kulko has arrived and will function as a platform for implementation.“Kulko is not quite as stupid as the others,” says Erik.

This robot is fitted with power sensors that measure all its contacts with its environment. This enables it to adapt its progress according to what it “feels”, and it has the potential to become more intelligent and learn to make its own decisions, according to its tutors.For the scientists at NTNU, it’s not sufficient for the robot to be just capable of moving forward and getting past obstacles. It also needs to be able to move independently around in its surroundings.In order to do so, the robot needs to compare the visual impressions that it captures with images and memories in its “experience base”, the researchers said.

The database would house the memory and decision-making circuitry and interpretation of sensor-data. In the database, maps and images are connected up to create an action that the robot has been trained to perform. When it checks whether it has seen a particular image before, and the answer is positive, the appropriate action immediately takes place"

Thats beyond cool. Imagine a camera fit - miniaturized version able to be fit on a human mounted application and able to "snake" it's way into all kinds of places. Cars, plumbing, especially, and in a fitting way complex electrical work. It's great and I'm looking forward to future versions.

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