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ljk4-1
Robotic 'spiders' could be the key to building large-scale structures in space,
according to ESA's Advanced Concepts Team. The tiny mechanical spiders would
inch their way across large nets of fabric in space performing small tasks or
lining up to create an antenna or some other structure.

Full story:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMHVXVLWFE_index_0.html


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Exploring Caves with Hopping Microbots

Astrobiology Magazine Dec. 8, 2005
*************************

NASA-funded researchers are
developing "hopping microbots"
capable of exploring hazardous
terrain, including underground caves
and one day, to search for life
below the surface of...

http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedire...sID=5103&m=7610
ljk4-1
A novel astronaut training system, innovative planetary landing technology and hydrogen gas storage in 0.1-mm micro-spheres are just some of the innovative ideas presented during the first Innovation Triangle Initiative (ITI) Final Presentation Day (FPD) at ESTEC.

Full story:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMW058A9HE_Benefits_0.html
lyford
Interesting Variable Geometry "Walkers"
Science Article - ignore the unfortunate War of the Worlds tie in - Check out links at bottom of article

Tet Walker Homepage

A.N.T.S. Homepage - turn the sound down before clicking on it - it's a bit, um, graphic heavy as well.
PhilCo126
On the excellent " The Planets " DVD set of BBC, Steve Squyres describe a robotic mission to the moon Europa... this is illustrated by a great animation showing a landing on Europa, melt down through the icy crust and underwater movement of a futuristic robotic probe ohmy.gif
ljk4-1
QUOTE (PhilCo126 @ Dec 23 2005, 07:06 AM)
On the excellent " The Planets " DVD set of BBC, Steve Squyres describe a robotic mission to the moon Europa... this is illustrated by a great animation showing a landing on Europa, melt down through the icy crust and underwater movement of a futuristic robotic probe  ohmy.gif
*


On the PBS special Life Beyond Earth, produced by Timothy Ferris, they had a segment depicting a lander on Europa and its ice-burrowing cryobot, which you can see a still of here:

http://www.pbs.org/lifebeyondearth/alone/europa.html
ljk4-1
Robonauts

Boston Globe January 9, 2006

*************************

The new robot designs for space
exploration are part of a broader
shift toward a vision of robots that
are partners, not simply
remote-controlled probes.

At the Computer Science and Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory at MIT,
robots are developing the skills
they'll need to be useful to people.

The Mertz robot recognizes faces and
distinguishes...

http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedire...sID=5198&m=7610
ljk4-1
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Robot

http://www.astrobio.net/news/article1834.html

Will robots one day rule the world? For decades this notion has both fascinated
and terrified humans, our hungry imagination fed by Hollywood blockbusters and
sci-fi novels. Now a new generation of robots promises a breakthrough in the
world of Artificial Intelligence as they become capable of cognitive thought
processes.
exobioquest
There are three futures of robotics:
1. Robots will eventually take over and kill us off.
2. Robots will forever be our slaves.
3. Humans will become robots.

After a technological singularity anyone of these could happen.

I personally think the 3rd is most likely.
First, A artificial intelligence could be many times smarter then a person, yet still not sentient! Let me explain: urgers are needed for consciousness and sentience, if you have no desires you will just sit there like dumb sh!t and do absolutely nothing unless commanded to, basically like our present computers do. Us humans are full of urges but all of them we were designed with or designed with a propensity for (either by evolution or some deity what ever you want to believe). A well made AI will be designed with one urge: follow human orders!, it will do nothing else no matter how smart it is, so why would it rebel against its masters that it loves so much? No matter how stupid us humans are it will still do as we command, like a mother loving a retarded child.

Second, if technology was available that could make you immortal, to allow you to feel and think things a million times better then your present body and mind could ever imagine, would you take up the offer? I sure as hell would, and those that reject the technology, specifically militantly will have little chance of victory against robotic armies controlled by cyborgs with far greater strategic and tactical planning abilities then any talking hairless monkey has. The rich and the powerful will likely be the first to have access to such technology, and since they already rule the world as is, they likely will not lose control of it simply because they upgraded their minds and bodies.

Now imagine space travel without human form. Human space travel requires huge logistic to support organic bodies that need food, water and air. A robot will need only a source of electricity and a minimal of elements (for repairs and replication). Imagine sending robots to another star system at sub-light speeds, highly intelligent robots that are either non-sentient or carry the emulated minds of humans, they can spend hundred or even thousand of years cruising with ease. Time is nothing when you’re immortal and have a controllable sense of boredom. They will set up a base at their target star system on anything, even something as small and inhabitable as an asteroid, set up communications and then you can upload your mind there at the speed of light. No massive colony ships, no need for faster then light travel, no need for livable conditions. If some futurists are right unmanned space travel will be the only and best means of accessing space by the end of this century.
ljk4-1
Spacecraft, heal thyself

Building spacecraft is a tough job. They are precision pieces of engineering
that have to survive in the airless environment of space, where temperatures can
swing from hundreds of degrees Celsius to hundreds of degree below zero in
moments. Once a spacecraft is in orbit, engineers have virtually no chance of
repairing anything that breaks. But what if a spacecraft could fix itself?

Full story:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMQKMMZCIE_index_0.html
ljk4-1
CRAYFISH HELP NASA EXPLORE COSMOS (Space & Astronomy News, 24/1/06)

Crayfish don't just blunder around in the dark bouncing off rocks but use a
sophisticated sense of touch to form detailed mental images of their
surroundings, an Australian researcher says.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/space/S...ish_1553770.htm
ljk4-1
Physics, abstract
physics/0602003

From: Sergi Valverde [view email]

Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 12:07:27 GMT (742kb)

Emergent Behavior in Agent Networks: Self-Organization in Wasp and Open Source Communities

Authors: Sergi Valverde, Guy Theraulaz, Jacques Gautrais, Vincent Fourcassie, Ricard V. Sole

Comments: 12 pages, 4 figures. Accepted for publication in the IEEE Intelligent Systems Special Issue on Self-Management through Self-Organization (2006)

Subj-class: Physics and Society

Understanding the complex dynamics of communities of software developers requires a view of such organizations as a network of interacting agents involving both goals and constraints. Beyond their special features, these systems display some overall patterns of organization not far from the ones seen in other types of organizations, including both natural and artificial entities. By looking at both software developers and social insects as agents interacting in a complex network, we found common statistical patterns of organization. Here, simple self-organizing processes leading to the formation of hierarchies in wasp colonies and open source communities are studied. Our analysis further validates simple models of formation of wasp hierarchies based on individual learning. In the open source community, a few members are clearly distinguished from the rest of the community with different reinforcement mechanisms.

http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0602003
ljk4-1
Thinking out of the box: how to challenge conventional space systems

Spacecraft must evolve. Advancing space research is no longer just about
swapping old components for new, now it is about entirely rethinking what a
space mission can do and how it achieves its goals. World experts are gathering
at ESA on 21 February to exchange new ideas and stimulate unconventional
thinking about space systems.

Full story:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMBYTLVGJE_index_0.html
ljk4-1
Robotic 'pack mule' displays stunning reflexes

NewScientist.com news service Mar. 3, 2006

BigDog, a nimble, four-legged
robot, is so surefooted it can
negotiate steep slopes, cross rocky
ground, and recover its balance even
after being given a hefty kick. The
machine, which moves like a cross
between a goat and a pantomime
horse, is being developed as a
robotic pack mule for the US...

http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedire...sID=5350&m=7610
ljk4-1
Next on NOVA: "The Great Robot Race"

http://www.pbs.org/nova/darpa

Broadcast: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT

(NOVA airs Tuesdays on PBS at 8 p.m. Check your local listings as
dates and times may vary.)

Join NOVA for an exclusive backstage pass to the DARPA Grand
Challenge--a raucous race for robotic, driverless vehicles sponsored
by the Pentagon, which awards a $2 million purse to the winning
team. Armed with artificial intelligence, laser-guided vision, GPS
navigation, and 3-D mapping systems, the contenders are some of the
world's most advanced robots. Yet even their formidable technology
and mechanical prowess may not be enough to overcome the grueling
130-mile course through Nevada's desert terrain. From concept to
construction to the final competition, "The Great Robot Race"
delivers the absorbing inside story of clever engineers and their
unyielding drive to create a champion, capturing the only aerial
footage that exists of the Grand Challenge.

Here's what you'll find on the companion Web site:

PROFILES & INTERVIEW

Meet the Teams
Watch video clips and learn more about "Sandstorm,"
"Ghostrider," and 10 other racing robots.


Cars That Drive Themselves
In a lively interview, Stanford's Sebastian Thrun shares his
excitement about real-world applications for autonomous
vehicles.


VIDEO & SLIDE SHOW

Watch the Program
The hour-long program will be available to view online starting
on March 29.

Video Extras
See a wild and bumpy Grand Challenge practice run in the Mojave,
find out how the motorcycle robot balances itself, and more.

What Robots See
In this slide show, look out through the "eyes" of
computer-driven vehicles.

Also, Links & Books, the Teacher's Guide, the program transcript,
and more.

http://www.pbs.org/nova/darpa
lyford
Um, yikes?

Engineers Unveil Futuristic Unmanned 'Crusher' Vehicle

PHYSORG


I see they don't think that the rocker-bogie system is the best, but Im not going to be the one to tell them.
Tom Tamlyn
QUOTE (lyford @ Apr 30 2006, 01:52 PM) *
I see they don't think that the rocker-bogie system is the best, but Im not going to be the one to tell them.


I've read that JPL patented the rocker bogie system which it uses for the Mars rovers. I wonder what JPL's licensing policy is?

TTT
ljk4-1
ENERGY TECH

- Researchers Focus On Spacecraft Power Storage

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Research...er_Storage.html

Kirtland AFB NM (SPX) May 02, 2006 - By the summer of 2007, a team of eight
personnel serving at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles
Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., believe their experiment consisting
of three flywheels, spinning between 16,000 and 40,000 revolutions per minute,
will demonstrate the innovative technology of combined attitude control and
energy storage on a satellite.
tasp
{I have no special training in radar}

However, I have wondered if illuminating a celestial object with a spacecraft onboard radio transmitter and analyzing the reflections on earth with the VLA would be useful. Might characterize surface properties, compositions, textures better than visible light.

I assume the power requirements would be largish and a technique like this, if practical, would be more suited to a Prometheus type craft.
djellison
Or better, the craft called 'earth'. Radar observations of NEO's, the moon and even, I believe, Mercury have been done from Earth using dishes like Arecibo and the DSN.

Doug
The Messenger
QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ May 2 2006, 09:32 AM) *
ENERGY TECH

- Researchers Focus On Spacecraft Power Storage

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Research...er_Storage.html

Kirtland AFB NM (SPX) May 02, 2006 - By the summer of 2007, a team of eight
personnel serving at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles
Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., believe their experiment consisting
of three flywheels, spinning between 16,000 and 40,000 revolutions per minute,
will demonstrate the innovative technology of combined attitude control and
energy storage on a satellite.

QUOTE
"Once it is proven that flywheels can store and convert energy into electricity while simultaneously controlling satellite orientation, they will eliminate the need for heavy, chemical batteries on many satellite systems, thus significantly reducing spacecraft weight," he noted.

That is a tall order, because you are basically substituting a fixed rotational inertia with a variable one, and predicting small changes in position on the bases of known changes in load - known, according to some accurate measure of current. The navigational accuracy would be slightly less than the combined temperature compensation and radiational shielding of the system. Lots of variables here.
helvick
QUOTE (The Messenger @ May 2 2006, 06:00 PM) *
That is a tall order, because you are basically substituting a fixed rotational inertia with a variable one, and predicting small changes in position on the bases of known changes in load - known, according to some accurate measure of current.

Interesting idea but I also can't see that it would be possible to accurately manage orientation\roll rates with just three such flywheels. It would be simpler with 6 (2 contra rotating flywheels for each axis). And then there is the question of redundancy.
Possibly I've missed out on some stunning advances in mechanical engineering over the past few years but I suspect that this is something that really is only at a proof of concept level and a long way from being practical for long term\range missions.
dvandorn
Hmmm... well, if you used a common transmission for all three flywheels, or if you can manage to add energy to all three of them in exactly the same increments at exactly the same time, then you're really operating as if you had three constant-speed CMGs, I would think.

-the other Doug
helvick
QUOTE (dvandorn @ May 2 2006, 07:59 PM) *
Hmmm... well, if you used a common transmission for all three flywheels, or if you can manage to add energy to all three of them in exactly the same increments at exactly the same time, then you're really operating as if you had three constant-speed CMGs, I would think.


That would just give you net rotation in the 3 axes. You need to be able to add energy into the system without adding any net angular momentum - the simplest way of doing that that I can think of is to have two contra rotating flywheels on each axis that are driven in such a way that energy inputs and outputs accelerate\decelerate contra-ratating pairs. In gyro pointing\rotation control mode they would be driven asymmetrically.

So the simple problem is managing the changing angular momentum imparted by storing or bleeding off energy, or at least figuring out what the net change is that needs to be managed. With two contra rotating flywheels on each axis it should be theoretically straightforward to add\bleed energy in response to changing charge\load conditions without imparting any net additional angular momentum to the main body. The hard problem that I see arises when attempting to manage the angular momentum transferred to and from the flywheels (acting as gyros) with the sort of precision that would be needed to manage the pointing of the craft. The hardest problem for me is figuring out how to add or remove energy from a contrarotating pair when they have been put in an asymmetric state.

Now it must be said that it's almost 20 years since I did any mecanical engineering work so I could be way off on this but my gut reaction is that a flywheel capable of storing a few hundred watts of power just can't be handled with that sort of delicacy. Also I never worked with any aerospace rated stuff and 20 years is a long time so maybe it is possible.
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