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Army of robot can get after it falls down

Researchers are exploring the “unsinkable” techniques, the use of the Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS). (Photo Credit: Courtesy Northrop Grumman Corporation)

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Robotics experts have developed a software to ensure that as military robots fall, they will be able to get themselves back on.

Experts from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have built software to work out whether a robot would be able to get back on its feet” after being destroyed.

The technology is crucial to keeping soldiers safe. The last thing military personnel is necessary to ensure the safety of a vehicle, for example for adjusting a fallen to IED-seeking robot.

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“A Soldier told me that he valued his robot so much, he got out of his vehicle to rescue the robot when he was turned back to,” said ARL researcher Dr. Chad Kessens, in a statement. “That is a story that I never want to listen.”

Dr. Chad Kessens, a roboticist with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, comes up with innovative ideas for future military robots. (File photo – U. S. Army)

Researchers from the Navy, PMS-408 (Expeditionary Missions) and the technical arm, the Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, together with JHU/APL and contractor Northrop Grumman Remotec to develop the Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) robot.

Army and JHU/APL scientists use of software which is developed by Kessens to evaluate AEODRS’ ability to self-right.

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JHU/APL researcher Galen Mullins explained that a Range of adversarial Planning Tool (RAPT), a software framework for testing autonomous and robotic systems, was also used. “We originally developed the software for underwater vehicles, but as Chad explained in his approach of the self-righting problem, I immediately saw how these technologies can work together,” he said.

Scientists eventually examined the AEODRS systems’ “eight degrees of freedom.” The robot can “right itself on the ground, no matter what initial state it is in,” she said.

The research, which is published in IEEE’s Robotics and Automation Letters, also resulted in movement plans showing how the robot can reorient itself.

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“The Army and the Navy want robots that can self, but we are still trying to understand and evaluate what that means,” Kessens said. “Self-right under what conditions? We have a metric analysis for the evaluation of a robot the ability to self-right on incline flat ground, and we can use it as a tool to improve the robot design. Our next step is to determine what a robot is able to be on uneven terrain.”

The study is the most recent example of military technological innovation. Marines, working with the Army and the Navy Seabees, recently used a specialized 3D concrete printer for the printing of a 500-square-meter barracks room in just 40 hours.

The innovative project created the world’s first continuous 3D-printed concrete barracks, according to the marine Corps.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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