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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Robots Converge on Smithsonian
July 20, 2011

Add another reason to visit the Smithsonian’sNational Museum of American History: Robots.

Specifically, nine robots developed at the Sandia National Laboratories that have been designated “historically significant,” including MARV (Miniature Autonomous Robotic Vehicles), Dixie, the first battlefield scout robot, and the hopping robot.

Philip Heermann, senior manager of Sandia’s Intelligent Systems, Robotics, and Cybernetics was obviously pleased with the Smithsonian’s request which came earlier this year.

“The Smithsonian selected Sandia robots for inclusion,” said Heermann, “after they researched the history of robotics and they found worldwide references, all pointing back to Sandia robotics as early pioneers.”

Dixie premiered in 1987 as an advance reconnaissance vehicle, using teleoperation so that the distant controller could see the terrain.

The Hopper (video above) hurls itself up to 20 feet into the air — over fences or other obstacles.

But, the number one crowd-pleaser was the invention of superminiature robots in 2001. Measuring just ¼ cubic inch, these tiny robots carry sophisticated gear including a camera, microphone or a chemical microsensor. They also have the ability to communicate with each other “like insects in a swarm,” as Sandia puts it. Not to worry, however. While visiting Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University at their National Robotics Engineering Center in June (see story), President Obama reassured Americans that we are safe from the likes of the rogue robot,HAL 9000.
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