Futurist and Google exec Ray Kurzweil thinks that once we have robotic implants, we’ll be funnier, sexier and more loving. Because that’s what artificial intelligence can do for you. Kurzweil has a truly, madly, deeply optimistic view of who we…
By John Markoff
The task requires hardly any thought. But as Dr. Brooks points out, training a robot to do it is a vastly harder problem for artificial intelligence researchers than I.B.M.’s celebrated victory on “Jeopardy!” this year with a robot named Watson.
Although robots have made great strides in manufacturing, where tasks are repetitive, they are still no match for humans, who can grasp things and move about effortlessly in the physical world.
Designing a robot to mimic the basic capabilities of motion and perception would be revolutionary, researchers say, with applications stretching from care for the elderly to returning overseas manufacturing operations to the United States (albeit with fewer workers).
We’ve seen different flying robots in recent months, but none is as easy to kick around as this orb under development by Japan’s Ministry of Defense.
It’s remarkable not only for its spherical frame, which allows it to bump into walls and perform rolling landings without damaging itself (as seen in the TV Tokyo vid below), but also for the fact that it cost only $1,000 to create.
Developed by the ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute, the machine is also unusual in that military robots are almost culturally taboo in Japan. The sphere, however, is designed to carry a camera, not weapons.
It’s also one of the only flying spherical robots in the world, according to the ministry. Apart from that Death Star torture droid.
With a top speed of about 40 mph, the remote-controlled machine flies on a single propeller and eight wings. It can navigate through windows, inside buildings, and even in narrow spaces.
The Israeli navy will shortly begin deploying unmanned craft along the Mediterranean coast, particularly off the Hamas-held Gaza Strip in the south and Lebanon in the north where Hezbollah guerrillas operate. These highly maneuverable unmanned surface vehicles, operated by remote control from land stations, can carry out a wide range of missions, such as patrolling coastal waters to counter gun-running and infiltration with less prospect of being detected than the much larger manned vessels.