The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'robotics'
Speculation has arisen about the US intelligence services deploying insect-sized surveillance drones after anti-war protesters reported seeing unusually large and odd-looking dragonflies at a demonstration:
"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "
At the same time, he added, some details do not make sense. Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies -- an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison. "Dragonflies never fly in a pack," he said.The FBI has denied having such technologies. The CIA, meanwhile, is known to have tested a robotic "insectothopter" in the 1970s, before scrapping the project as it could not handle crosswinds. Scientists now have a better understanding of how insects fly, and it's possible that modern computer technology (not to mention materials science) could enable an insectothopter to respond to changes in its environment sufficiently well to navigate. Whether the spooks would risk prototypes, which officially do not exist, being captured by anti-war protesters is another question.
(If these things do exist, it's a good thing that America is immune to totalitarianism; imagine what, say, the Stasi or the Burmese junta would do with such technologies.)
Actually, the CIA/FBI may be a red herring. Has anybody asked Google about these bugs?
Today in rocket science: scientists have developed a rocket-powered mechanical arm. I guess they were right, and in the future, everything will be rocket-powered.
I wonder whether installing one of these as a prosthetic limb would be classified as rocket surgery.
The Welsh city of Cardiff is experimenting with what could be the future of public transport. The ULTra system is somewhere between tranways and taxis, and consists of autonomous cars (large enough to carry several passengers and a bicycle) travelling on a dedicated track and taking their passengers to a destination of their choice. Meanwhile, Melbourne's airport rail link has been scrapped, because a study revealed insufficient patronage to justify the expense.