Robots have led the way for human space exploration, and NASA is counting on them to serve as partners in the next round of endeavors. The space agency is teaming with industry on new technologies that will develop innovative robotic systems and offer capabilities that are key to expanding the reach of humans beyond Earth.
Robots may one day learn to perform complex tasks simply by watching humans accomplish those tasks. That ability will allow people without programming skills to teach artificial intelligence systems to conduct certain functions or missions.
Teaching artificial intelligence systems or robots usually requires software engineers. Those programmers normally interview domain experts on what they need the machines to do and then translate that information into programming language, explains Ankit Shah, a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) and the Interactive Robotics Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The current development of particular robots for NASA represents a methodical shift in how some Lunar or Martian vehicles are designed and how the related components or systems are included to support vehicle operation. Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic are working on a lunar robot for NASA’s Lunar Surface and Instrumentation and Technology Payload program, or LSITP, that is small, fast, solar-powered and will not be teleoperated nor radiation-hardened, which is quite a change from more risk-adverse prior methods.
Scientists conducting basic research at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory are examining how to build characteristics into a robotic system to improve human-nonhuman teaming. While artificial intelligence and machine learning applications can be trained to perform a task, those kinds of systems are not yet able to collaborate with humans and cannot anticipate human intent or what they will do.
Robots trying out to become part of the U.S. Army’s battlefield force now have their own real-world testbed built atop what used to be a nerve gas testing site. The Army Research Laboratory has built the Robotics Research Collaboration Campus, or R2C2, in Graces Quarters at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Formerly a superfund site, the area now is sprouting buildings amid mixed wooded and grassy terrain typical of what the Army may find on future battlefields.
In 1991, as part of an education program I was taking, I had an opportunity to visit several factories that were using robotics. That included visits to an automobile assembly factory in Kentucky and a Hitachi assembly plant in Japan. I was impressed with the precision and efficiency of the robots I saw in those plants. At the time, factory robots performed mostly routine, repetitive or dangerous tasks. They saved time and money, provided precision assembly and improved productivity, in part by reducing human errors. They precisely drilled every hole for every rivet.
Although the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network has faced delays for a variety of reasons, the two-channel manpack radio will undergo operational testing this fall, according to Gen. John Murray, USA, commander, Army Futures Command.
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is handing its robotics research in adaptive autonomy to eight partners in academia and industry in what laboratory officials describe as a sprint to develop new capabilities. The Army has awarded $2.9 million in first-year funding as part of its Scalable, Adaptive and Resilient Autonomy (SARA) program to develop methods by which future Army robots can autonomously navigate rough terrain and avoid being blocked or upended by obstacles.
Researchers recently announced that they can use a groundbreaking 4D-printing process to create material capable of morphing into the likeness of a human face, the most complex shape-shifting structure ever. The research may one day lead to advances in dynamic communications, soft electronics, smart fabrics, tissue engineering for medical purposes, robotics and an array of commercial applications.
The U.S. Army announced today that it has canceled the solicitation for the Section 804 Middle Tier Acquisition (MTA) Rapid Prototyping phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV). Based on feedback and proposals received from industry, the Army has determined it is necessary to revisit the requirements, acquisition strategy and schedule before moving forward.
"We remain committed to the OMFV program as it is our second-highest modernization priority, and the need for this ground combat vehicle capability is real. It is imperative we get it right for our soldiers," Dr. Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, says in a written announcement.
The U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the U.S. Army Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team intends to award an other transaction agreement to QinetiQ North America to build four light and to Textron to build four medium Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs).
Advances in sensor mechanics and the advent of artificial intelligence have cleared the way for robots to play an increasingly greater role in military operations. Their growing versatility allows them to serve multiple functions in the military, from basic assistance to assumption of full combat roles. They can inter alia, lighten a warfighter’s load, provide search and rescue capabilities, perform surveillance missions, engage in casual evacuation, provide resupply and conduct hazardous route reconnaissance. Within 10 years, we may see them driving supply vehicles in convoys.
Autonomous vehicles that can clear debris from roads, move containers after determining their contents and scuttle across rough terrain amid changing environments have emerged as the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) marked 10 years of collaborative research with industry and academia. The goals reached in the capstone of the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA) were presented at the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh, as the ARL demonstrated several robots designed around Army battlefield needs.
Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy has approved a new policy on advanced manufacturing designed to help the Army secure a competitive edge against near-peer adversaries.
In four years, researchers funded by the U.S. military may develop a working prototype of a system that allows for a nonsurgical interface between the human brain and technology. Such a system could improve brain control of unmanned vehicles, robots, cybersecurity systems and mechanical prosthetics while also improving the interface between humans and artificial intelligence (AI) agents.
Nanosized robots capable of crawling around on a person’s brain or underneath the skin may sound like a nightmare to some, but researchers suggest the mini machines could serve medical purposes such as gathering data on the brain or the spinal column.
According to an announcement from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Pitt), the Department of Defense has selected Pitt and neighboring Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create an autonomous trauma care system for injured soldiers. Under the so-called TRAuma Care In a Rucksack program or TRACIR, the universities will work to develop artificial intelligence (AI) platforms that enable medical interventions.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials will include a panel discussion on ethics and legal issues at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Colloquium being held March 6-7 in Alexandria, Virginia.
“We’re looking at the ethical, legal and social implications of our technologies, particularly as they become powerful and democratized in a way,” reveals John Everett, deputy director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office.
Amidst a great deal of hype, hope and even apprehension regarding artificial intelligence (AI), experts at the U.S. Defense Department’s premier research and development organization intend to help smart machines reach their full potential.
Endeavor Robotics Inc., Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was awarded a $32,400,000 firm-fixed-price contract for reset, sustainment, maintenance, and recap parts for Robot Logistics Support Center technicians to support the overall sustainment actions of the entire Endeavor family of small, medium, and large robots. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of January 2, 2024. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W56HZV-19-D-0031).