NEWSLETTER - 22 February 2011

Dear Members of Congress,

Welcome to the fifth in a planned series of correspondence in conjunction with the Congressional Robotics Caucus. The intent of the newsletter is to inform and educate you and your staff about the uses of robotic technology. This issue contains stories and links from several companies, organizations and research institutions, and we hope that you will find them informative and meaningful.

Will 2011 be the year of the personal robot? Georgia Institute of Technology’s work on personal robots is highlighted in a recent Scientific American article and a robot designed by Charles Kemp, a Georgia Tech professor, was named a top robot in 2010 by PC World.

National Robotics Week, April 9–17 – Recall last year Congress passed a Bill through legislation declaring National Robotics Week will be celebrated yearly the second week in April. Stay tuned for activities in the DC area. In the meantime keep current by checking the website where contests and giveaways and activities to download are posted.

Intelligent Automation, Inc., Rockville, Maryland – a few months ago IAI demonstrated its DARPA LANdroids technology at Ft. Benning MOUT site. The objective of the LANDroids program is the development of intelligent mobile robotic relays to support communications in urban environments.  IAI demonstrated its intelligent algorithms for autonomous mesh formation, self optimization, simultaneous localization and mapping, and intruder detection. The IAI software was deployed on teams of Packbots and LDRs (LANdroid Development Robots). Integral to the success of demonstration was IAI’s Distributed Control Framework (DCF) and Multi-Robot Operator Control Unit (OCU).  DCF and the multi-robot OCU enabled test and evaluation of IAI’s algorithms in a virtual environment prior to test and deployment in the Ft Benning MOUT site. The multi-robot OCU also served as the common operator control unit and visualization tool for observing the emergent behaviors of the robot teams at the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). For more information:

“Robots Can Create Jobs, Too,” an article by Jeff Burnstein, President, Robotic Industries Association, 1) highlights job creation through robotics and other automated technologies; 2) calls out new industries that the U.S. would like to develop: Wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, as well as established ones (aerospace, electronics, food lab automation, and consumer packaged goods); and 3) points to job initiatives / situations in the states of Michigan, Kansas, Maryland, and California.
RoPro Design Inc and Educational Robot Company, both Pittsburgh-based robotics companies, are consolidating their marketing efforts with respect to their educational robot offerings. With the increasing interest in STEM education, they intend to offer a line of educational robotic products that cover both the K-12 and university markets. They are currently preparing to attend the International Technology & Engineering Educators Association trade show in Minneapolis MN on March 24-26. Most recently they submitted an NIH proposal regarding an innovative robotics STEM initiative for middle school students.

RE2, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, Licenses Robotic Tool-Change SBIR Technology to Northrop Grumman Remotec RE2, Inc., a leading developer of intelligent modular manipulation systems, is providing its Small Robot Toolkit (SRT) to Northrop Grumman Corporation subsidiary Remotec Inc., which will use the tool-change technology to upgrade the manipulation capabilities of the Andros HD-1 unmanned ground vehicle.  The U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command recently awarded Remotec a contract to upgrade its fleet of Andros HD-1 Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to help counter evolving threats from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory discuss aggressive maneuvers for autonomous Quadrotor FlightThe autonomous quadrotor robot (a plus sign-shaped gizmo with four rotors) is controlled to precisely fly along aggressive trajectories, including flips, flight through windows, and perching on surfaces. Daniel Mellinger, a Ph.D. student, worked to program the bots, whose acrobatics can be seen in a video that has received over 1.3 million hits on YouTube.  Mellinger’s research will eventually lead to the engineering of flying devices to explore and create detailed maps of buildings or landscapes when the environment is too dangerous for humans, for instance, after natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks or in time of war.  




Last Updated: 22 February 2011


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