MIT's research in microaircraft has now moved to
Lockheed Martin flight tests for DARPA. Each Micro Air Vehicle
is a flying wing about 6" across and weighing 3 ounces.
They are designed for autonomous reconnaissance, possibly
in swarms or flocks sent to scout hostile forces in the field.
When (or if) they return, they can crash land without damage.
The small, slow-flying craft are so hard to see that developers
paint theirs orange. Non-military uses may include border patrol
or use on ranches to inspect fences and monitor cattle. [UPI,
11Jan99. Bill Park.] (Bill notes that microturbine research
at MIT should soon permit hovering reconnaissance units
and flying webcams. Interesting privacy issues there.]
Michael Korkin is creating a robo-kitten, "Robokoneko,"
using a 37.7M-neuron Cellular Automata Machine (CAM)
that Genobyte (Colorado) is building for ATR (Kyoto).
"Observers won't need a PhD to appreciate that there is
a brain behind it," according to Hugo De Garis. The brain
hardware -- using Xilinx (San Jose) chips -- should be completed
in Mar99; programming through genetic-algorithm trials
will then be attempted. Meanwhile Robokoneko is being
simulated in software. This new CAM brain is larger
and more "biologically relevant" than any previous neural model,
but no one can say yet whether its complexity will bring an
advance in AI reasoning. [New Scientist. , 07Jan99.]