|Volume 1: No. 17|
The U.S. robotics industry is setting sales records, with last year 9% above the previous record in 1984. [Robotic Industries Association. Electronic Design, 6/13.]
An IBM-PC robot simulation program is available from Robot Simulations, High Bridge House, High Bridge, Newcastle on Tyne, England NE1 1EW; (44 +91) 221-1087. The program's kinematic modeler can check for collisions while displaying multirobot 3-D workcells in real time. You can also model tooling, conveyors, vehicles, linear tracks, and turntables. CAD capabilities include wireframes, solids, extruded objects, curved-surface approximations, and object-attachment hierarchies. [Alfred Rosenblatt, IEEE Spectrum, 1/91.]
A chart from the Field Robotics Center lists U.S. companies designing and manufacturing mobile robots for field use:
ARD -- environmental cleanup, military. Caterpillar -- heavy equipment, open pit mining. Combustion Engineering -- commercial power systems. Cybermation -- material handling, sentry duty, navigation. Denning Mobile Robots -- motion picture filming, sentry duty. General Dynamics -- military, space. Honeybee Robotics -- space robotics, components. Int'l Sub. Engineering -- power line service, mining. John Deere -- heavy equipment. Lockheed -- space, military, environmental cleanup. Martin Marietta -- space, military, environmental cleanup. Odetics -- nuclear service, military, environmental cleanup. Redzone -- nuclear waste cleanup, inspection systems. Remotec -- bomb disposal, nuke service, anti-terror equipment. SAIC -- environmental cleanup. STX -- surrogate Army vehicles. Transitions Research -- building, meal delivery, power line service. Westinghouse -- nuclear power plant maintenance and repair.
Redzone is a spinoff from CMU, a leading robotics research center. [John Markoff, New York Times. San Jose Mercury, 5/26.]
A.K. Dewdney's Mathematical Recreations column in the July Scientific American is about Rodney Brook's "insect lab" at MIT. In particular, it features the Genghis robot built by Colin Angle and others. I'm not sure why circuit diagrams are a mathematical recreation, but the giant-mosquito-like creature is fascinating. ("Is it a bug?", a visitor asked. "No," replied Brooks reflexively, "It's a feature.") One experiment in self- organization used body tilt as feedback to controllers for the six legs. Each controller knew the current state of the other five legs, but had no built-in cooperative strategies. Initial thrashing gave way to tentative forward movement, then to a stable tripod gait in less than 1.5 minutes! Is this AI, CS, or EE?