Remember that little robot that scoots along the corridors of the Death Star? These Georgia Tech machines remind me of that little guy. But they're designed to help people on Earth by mapping out building interiors.
The rolling droids are being developed by Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and the California Institute of Technology/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Equipped with two cameras and laser scanners, they can autonomously explore hallways in an unfamiliar building, detecting doors and windows, and create a map for users such as soldiers or firefighters.
The project is part of the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) program and is being sponsored by the Army Research Laboratory. The program is aimed at developing palm-size machines that can hover in place, enter buildings, and perform other insect-like stunts while gathering data and relaying it to human controllers.
The Georgia Tech robots in the vid below roll on treads and measure about a foot square, but researchers plan to shrink them. "Fully autonomous and collaborative, these tiny robots could swarm by the scores into hazardous situations," Georgia Tech said in a release.
Creepy? Definitely. The only thing worse than swarming robots are baby robots. But I digress. … Read more