Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Robotic Aide in walking / lifting / killing ::

The Pentagon wants the robotic suit to be able to vastly amplify the slightest motion of arms or legs - not enough that one could leap tall buildings with a single bound or dodge an incoming bullet - but enough assist to allow a soldier to carry large loads and a staggering amount of weaponry for up to 12 hours at more than seven miles an hour without tiring.

In an effort to make every soldier a tank, the military is heavily investing in robots aiding human mechanical tasks. Think of Ripley in the 'lifter' from Aliens, fighting the queen.

Of course, there are also civilian applications, like legs for the handicapped and any moving/lifting blue collar job. It would be like an active back-brace, and injuries would certainly be reduced.

More interesting might be applications in sports. I would image the pilots of these walkers would become jockey size, and would become extremely good at finessing the bot. I think contact sports would become much more interesting if human injuries and physical limitations were less of an issue. Also, the sports industry as a whole would actually aide innovation, instead of simply giving the plebeians their bread and circuses.


On a side note, this is an 80/20 problem. You see this trend a lot: a problem is too hard for robots, so a human is introduced to do the really hard part (like seeing and thinking) and the robot will do the rest. The last 20% is left for the human. Here, the robot doesn't need to perceive or think, only act and balance.

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