Robotics

March 5, 2015

Intuitive Surgical Inc., Sunnyvale, California, has been awarded a maximum $430 million fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for surgical robotic systems, instruments, accessories and upgrades. This contract was a competitive acquisition and 35 offers were received. This is a five-year base contract with no option periods. Location of performance is California with a Feb. 23, 2020, performance completion date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2015 defense working capital funds.

February 11, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Aaron Nicely, of RE2, manipulates the High Dexterity Robot to retrieve candy from a bag at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is going back to high school—sort of. The research arm of the Defense Department launched a challenge for all high school students called Robots4Us, a video contest on societal implications of robotics.

Students are to focus on how robots could make a difference for society in the future. Students are to make a two- to three-minute video that shows the kind of robot-assisted society they would like to see.

The contest opened today, February 11, and the video entry deadline is April 1, no fooling.

February 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The Black Hornet Nano-sized unmanned air vehicle has been deployed to Afghanistan with international forces and is one of many systems included in experiments conducted by the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Georgia. A pocket-sized system could be carried into battle by a squad leader to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.

U.S. Army officials envision a future in which robots are integral members of the team performing a range of missions, whether hunting for roadside bombs, searching for threats inside buildings, lugging heavy equipment or packing heat in the form of a light machine gun or missile launcher for troop protection. The Army’s existing robotics road map is updated routinely, but now officials are looking for ways to realize their vision sooner than planned.

November 6, 2014
George I. Seffers
Biobots detect and track sounds for search and rescue.

I know what you’re thinking—cockroach karaoke! But that’s just not right.

North Carolina State University researchers have developed technology that allows cyborg cockroaches, or biobots, to pick up sounds with small microphones and seek out the source of the sound. The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.

October 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers
NATO deploys unmanned systems to gather data in support of counter-mine operations.

Multiple autonomous underwater vehicles equipped with modern sensors relevant to NATO minehunting missions are being employed at sea during the Multinational AutoNomy Experiment (MANEX ‘14), held September 22 to October 13, 2014, along the Italian coast, between Framura and Bonassola, in the Ligurian Sea.

September 17, 2014

Advanced Reconnaissance Corporation, Fishkill, New York (W911QX-14-D-0007); Applied Research Associates Incorporated, Albuquerque, New Mexico (W911QX-14-D-0008); A-T Solutions Incorporated, Fredericksburg, Virginia (W911QX-14-D-0009); CyPhy Works Incorporated, Danvers, Massachusetts (W911QX-14-D-0010); EFW Incorporated, Ft.

July 30, 2014

Remotec, Clinton, Tennessee, is being awarded an $8,801,324 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for depot level repairs to the MK3 Series Remote Ordnance Neutralization Systems (RONS), and the upgrade and repair of the MK3 Mod 0 to the MK3 Mod 1 System. The MK3 Mod 1 upgrade will improve the serviceability of the robots, increase the availability of the spare parts and increase the capabilities of the robots. In situations where it is economically infeasible to upgrade or repair the MK3 Mod 0 system, the option to purchase a new RONS MK3 Mod 1 for replacement will be available under a new contract.

July 14, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army’s Project Manager of Robotic Systems Joint Project Office, Warren, Michigan, is conducting market research to see what companies can provide a lightweight common robotic system (CRS) for dismounted soldiers.

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Just as the U.S. Navy initially resisted the transition from sail to steam-powered ships and elements of the Army dismissed air power and fought against the shift from horses to tanks, some parts of the military continue to resist the expansion of uninhabited systems into traditional combat roles. As a result, the U.S. Defense Department is failing to invest in game-changing technology that could increase efficiencies and save lives, according to a just-released report from the Center for a New American Security.

April 8, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has successfully demonstrated the Autonomous Aerial Cargo and Utility System (AACUS), which allows current, full-size helicopters to be remotely controlled by a tablet device. Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, USN, chief of naval research, recently revealed that two young Marines at Quantico, Virginia, were able to land a full-size helicopter autonomously on an unprepared landing site with just one touch on a mini-tablet.

January 21, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. Army recently encouraged science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by sponsoring a robotics contest for Texas middle and high school students. The VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) held in San Antonio comprised more than 50 teams from Texas schools.

January 7, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected eight teams eligible to receive up to $1 million to continue their work following the conclusion of the agency’s Robotics Challenge trials. These top teams will now prepare for the finals, which will occur at some point in the next 12-18 months. The robots performed a series of eight simple tasks, such as walking a short distance or cutting a hole in a wall, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Florida. DARPA designed the tasks to simulate what a future robot might have to do to safely enter and effectively work inside a disaster zone.

October 4, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Boston Dynamics has used its YouTube channel to unveil its latest creation, WildCat, which is capable of walking, running and bounding. The company describes its latest cat bot as “A four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat's best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA's M3 program. Not sure they named it right, though. Looks more like a hyperactive dog than a cat.

October 7, 2013

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have created prototypes of cube-shaped robots the size of a child’s building block, which can climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground and move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces. Built without external moving parts, the M-Block robots feature an internal flywheel that can reach speeds of up to 20,000 revolutions per minute. The edges and surfaces of the M-Block include magnets that enable cubes to attach to each other. Designed with beveled edges, a slight gap forms between their magnets when the blocks near each other.

September 23, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Innovation Associates, Johnson City, N.Y., has been awarded a maximum $48,750,000 fixed-price with an economic-price-adjustment contract for pharmacy automation systems to include robotic dispensers, cabinets, workstations, hardware, and software. This is a five-year base contract with no option year periods. Using military services are the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM2D1-13-D-8302).

July 18, 2013

The Office of Naval Research and the AUVSI Foundation are co-sponsoring an autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) competition, which supports interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education while increasing the pool of AUV ideas. The 16th International RoboSub Competition, titled “License to Dive,” will challenge university and high school student teams to bump buoys, park, fire foam torpedoes through a hexagonal cutout, deposit two markers into bins while submerged, and deliver two PVS mock pizza boxes to a specified location.

June 27, 2013

Robots slightly shorter than the average human may be able to connect portions of the offline world to the online world digitally. Knightscope Incorporated will soon be testing the K5 and K10 robots, which can autonomously prowl through large areas and small spaces, collecting significant amounts of data from their immediate surroundings. Applications include perimeter surveillance of military bases and inspection of power plants.

June 20, 2013
In previous rodeos, teams competed in simulations that included a tornado-damaged nuclear reactor scenario. Operators were tasked with quickly locating and moving simulated fuel rods, stopping the flow of radioactive water from running into a storm drain system and minimizing radioactive contamination on the robot.

Civilian and military bomb squad teams from across the country are participating in the 7th Annual Western National Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise this week. Hosted by Sandia National Laboratories, the event pits these experts against each other to determine who can most effectively defuse dangerous situations with the help of robots.

April 12, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Researchers at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, have developed a robotic batwing that could one day lead to more dynamic, dexterous and sophisticated wings for aircraft. The National Science Foundation, which supports the research, announced the breakthrough in its online publication Science Nation, along with a video. Unlike the wings of birds or insects, batwings are more like the human hand with many joints and skin, allowing bats to change the shape of their wings in-flight, researchers say. 

March 15, 2013
George I. Seffers

NASA has selected three companies to provide engineering solutions and products to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The companies are Radiance Technologies Inc. and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., Huntsville, Ala., and Wyle Laboratories Inc., Houston, Texas. The performance-based, cost-reimbursement fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts have a potential value of $350 million. The contracts have a five-year performance period with a minimum order quantity value of $1 million.

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