Sunday, April 13, 2008

Revolutionary Utility Robots

Houdini, one of RedZone's field robots, is designed to fold in half so that it can move through tight spaces on its way to the job (which usually involves bulldozing toxic waste).

Any mobile robot that does work would fit into this category. Utility robots are often called "field robots" . This area of robotics is coming on strong right now, & within a decade, utility robots will likely be everywhere. Robots in this category include bomb squad bots, emergency response robots (like the ones that searched the rubble of the World Trade Center), military reconnaissance bots, & those in the burgeoning market of domestic robots (robot vacuum cleaners, robo-mowers, & home security robots). Combat robots would also fit into this category. Their job? Kickin' bot!.

Because robots of utility type are often battery-powered, they need to be lightweight enough to not unnecessarily tax their motors & stored power source. Utility robots designed for harsh environments need to balance power/weight concerns with protection from the elements. Like industrial manipulators, utility robots don't usually look very sexy (think R2-D2), focusing on function over form. For utility robot category, reliability under changing real-world conditions is key.

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