I keep wondering why they don't just make huge mech battlesuits, like in anime...I mean, that would be cool. And intimidating. A guy in a 20 foot walking piece of armament and armor would scare the crap out of me!
Posts: 3658 | Registered: Jan 2002
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As some of you know I attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a grad studnet. I have some affiliation with the robot lab here and roommed w/ one of the ppl who worked on their Segway project last year. Note however that I am *not* working on this project. First of all these Segways aren't capable of carrying people so everyone was disappointed when they couldn't learned they couldn't ride the segway.
I think this line of research, although being sponsored by DARPA, has a lot of other possible uses as well. Working in an outdoor envrionment, arguably the best environment for the segways, forces researchers to make advances in many of the techniques currently used. For example our group wanted to do visual tracking of a subject. However, this proves to be much more difficult outdoors because the sun gets in the way.
So you're probably thinking that's nice why do we care. I can imagine all sorts of technology that could use better outdoor vision systems. For example a lot of people have been talking about cars that can be put on auto pilot. Well for such a thing to be possible with current road infrastructure better vision systems are certainly necessary. Also autonomous robots can be used to explore areas humans just can't go easily. An example of this is, of course, other planets. But it can also be argued that certain parts of our own dear planet earth are fairly inhospitable to man kind as well.
I guess my main point is that I think that the only people not terribly worried, at the moment, or robots taking over the world are people working with robots. I mean yeah I spent 4 hrs just trying to get 3 blocks set up in a way that the robot could reach all of them with its arm without getting stuck. As far as the segway's becoming battle bots well... as far as I've heard a lot of groups were still joysticking theirs around. I'm actually disappointed that UMass didn't make the list. Their demo was actually pretty spiffy and it worked.
Edit: after rereading this I realize that I'm almost incoherent and didn't present my point well at all. But until I wake up this is as good as it gets.