Police Robot Accidentally Burns Down House

A mobile home in Tennessee was left a smoking ruin last month after it was attacked by a heavily armed police robot firing advanced triple-warhead gas grenades.

Despite the uncompromising tactics employed by the no-nonsense tin cop, and the fact that satellite and heat-sensing technology had apparently confirmed that the residence housed a dangerous fugitive tooled up with a deadly arsenal of weaponry, feds and local lawmen who combined to launch the assault were left egg-faced following the inferno. The ashy wreckage left behind following the robocop’s orgy of mechanical destruction contained no trace of their quarry, who had plainly escaped during the mayhem.

The Register: Police ROBOT attacks and BURNS DOWN HOUSE

I wonder what unit this mechanical police offer was. ED209s are known for this sort of fuck-up.

(Thanks Alex!)

Robots, Automation and the Future of Work

This is a presentation by Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works. He’s written more extensively on the subject in an essay called Robotic Nation, which I haven’t read yet.

I think Brain might be overestimating the ability of machine-vision and natural language processing to supplant human intelligence, but the general trend towards fewer and fewer jobs is real one that I’ve written about a lot lately.

(via Justin Pickard)

Robots to Get Their Own Internet

Rusty and Big Guy

The BBC on the coming robot hive-mind:

European scientists have embarked on a project to let robots share and store what they discover about the world.

Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.

Researchers behind it hope it will allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.

BBC: Robots to get their own internet

(via m1k3y)

Robots evolve to learn cooperation, hunting

robot evolution

If robots are allowed to evolve through natural selection, they will develop adaptive abilities to hunt prey, cooperate, and even help one another, according to Swiss researchers.

In a series of experiments described in the journal PLoS Biology, Dario Floreano of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and Laurent Keller of the University of Lausanne reported that simple, small-wheeled Khepera and Alice robots can evolve behaviors such as collision-free movement and homing techniques in only several hundred “generations.”

The robots were controlled by a neural network that mutated randomly, with input information from the robots’ sensors. In an imitation of natural selection, the robots with the best maneuvering abilities were allowed to foster a new generation. Furthermore, selected robots were “paired” by having their neural net connections mixed and passed to a new generation.

CNET: Robots evolve to learn cooperation, hunting

The PLoS paper cited

(via Chris Arkenberg)

Oregon profs plan giant robotic space cockroach warriors

Human traitors in Oregon are planning the construction of fearsome robot cockroaches physically superior to mankind.

“Cockroaches are incredible,” says John Schmitt, a prof at Oregon State uni. “They can run fast, turn on a dime, move easily over rough terrain, and react to perturbations faster than a nerve impulse can travel.”

Schmitt and his colleagues plan to build cockroach-like but much larger machines to be employed in “difficult jobs, such as military operations, law enforcement or space exploration”.

The spacegoing robowarrior roaches would have huge advantages over today’s vaguely humanoid or quadruped walker robots, according to Schmitt.

The Register: Oregon profs plan giant robotic space cockroach warriors

(via Steven Walling)

Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones

Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

Wall Street Journal: Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones

John Metta: Our soldiers should die in war

While it’s easy to sit in a room somewhere and discuss the merits of building autonomous vehicles to do the “dirty work,” I’m very disturbed by the trend. In fact, it quite sickens me.

I feel that we are at a time when we should be seriously seeking to understand the humanity of each other. Other peoples, other cultures, other ways of being. Looking at the news, it may seem that often, the only thing that we have in common with a person on the other side of the planet is that we are both human.

But, I feel it’s important to remember that this commonality is the only thing that is important. The most important thing we have is our humanity, and humanity means that with makes us human.

Sitting in an office, safely controlling a machine that will extinguish the lives of human beings is not going to connect us to another human. It is not going to give us the chance to learn about that person’s worldview, nor is it going to give us the chance to describe ours. There is no conversation. There is only death.

And this is death at no cost to ourselves.

How disconnected do we want to be? Will we accept war without a price?

Positively Glorious: Our soldiers should die in war

See also: Military Robots and the Laws of War (adapted from PW Singer’s Wired for War)

My position is simpler: we shouldn’t fight wars.

Biomass-Eating Military Robot Is a Vegetarian, Company Says

There’s an update to this story:

contrary to reports, including one that appeared on FOXNews.com, the EATR will not eat animal or human remains.

Dr. Bob Finkelstein, president of RTI and a cybernetics expert, said the EATR would be programmed to recognize specific fuel sources and avoid others.

“If it’s not on the menu, it’s not going to eat it,” Finkelstein said.

“There are certain signatures from different kinds of materials” that would distinguish vegetative biomass from other material.”

Fox News: Biomass-Eating Military Robot Is a Vegetarian, Company Says

(Thanks Theoretick)

Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies

Update: Company says the robot will not eat dead bodies.

A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies.

Robotic Technology Inc.’s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot — that’s right, “EATR” — “can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable,” reads the company’s Web site.

That “biomass” and “other organically-based energy sources” wouldn’t necessarily be limited to plant material — animal and human corpses contain plenty of energy, and they’d be plentiful in a war zone.

Fox News: Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies

(via OVO)

Chemical gel could be used for non-electronic robots and more

It seems like electronics-free robots is only the tip of the iceberg:

A chemical gel that can walk like an inchworm, or looper caterpillar has been demonstrated in a Japanese robotics lab.

The video above shows the material in action. It was created in the Shuji Hashimoto applied physics laboratory at Waseda University, Tokyo.

Shingo Maeda and colleagues made the colour-changing, motile gel by combining polymers that change in size depending on their chemical environment. This is based on an oscillating chemical reaction called the Belousov–Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. The result is an autonomous material that moves without electronic stimulation.

The BZ reaction is one of a class of chemical systems in which the concentration of one or more compounds periodically increases and decreases. As well as producing stunning patterns (video), it can even be used to perform calculations using a dish containing the pulsing patterns as a chemical brain.

New Scientist: Chemical ‘caterpillar’ points to electronics-free robots

(via Grinding)

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