Giant Israeli death-robots!

November 15, 2010

Well, not quite, but it’s still a neat use of robotic technology. Israeli researchers are working on a snake robot that can be used for clandestine scouting and planting explosives, and it uses some cool technology:

According to (Lt. Col. Gabi) Dobresco, the robotic snake could be useful in urban and subterranean warfare, enabling the inspection and surveillance of sewage systems, narrow tunnels, or culverts, inaccessible by other systems. Another advantage of such robots is the fact that the entire robot acts as highly flexible arm having multiple Degrees Of Freedom (DOF).

The vision for snake robots, outlined by Dobresco includes highly maneuverable snake shaped robot that can maneuver through difficult terrain, ‘sneak’ stealthily inside buildings, use its sensors to scan their interiors. The robot will be able to carry disposable sensors that could be separated and left behind to monitor activity inside buildings. When suspicious activity inside buildings is detected, the stealthy robot will be able to identify specific targets while remain virtually unnoticed, and leave behind delayed activated explosive charges for employing lethal effect.

As primary sensors, the robot will be equipped with a thermal imager, miniature cameras or low-light TV sensors, and possibly laser scanners operating as laser radar (LADAR). As each of the links is embedded with cameras, the entire group provides redundant, instant multiple 360 degree view of the surrounding while mapping of indoor and subterranean areas by laser radar.

This is actually the third generation of robotic snake the Israelis have worked on. Below is video of the first:

Mind you, they’re now two generation past what you just saw. This is going to have the brave, brave jihadis so paranoid, they’ll shoot every snake they see, robotic or not.

I’ve often joked, in reference to American military technology, that “we have all the best toys.” It looks like the Israelis are giving us some competition in that department.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Glowing trees to replace streetlamps?

November 15, 2010

Here’s an idea straight out of science-fiction: trees altered to glow at night, bright enough to light your way:

Taiwanese researchers have come up with the elegant idea of replacing streetlights with trees, by implanting their leaves with gold nanoparticles. This causes the leaves to give off a red glow, lighting the road for passersby without the need for electric power. This ingenious triple threat of an idea could simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, cut electricity costs and reduce light pollution, without sacrificing the safety that streetlights bring.

Of course the idea has to be justified by fighting global warming (“reducing carbon emissions”), a problem that doesn’t exist, but I think it’s neat in itself, calling to mind science-fiction or fantasy art and having somewhat of a magical feel to it.

Critics will no doubt think of all sorts of problems, from the mundane (“Do the trees have to be injected each season?”) to the serious (“How much would this cost?”) to the hysterical (“You’re creating mutant trees!!”), but that’s for another day, should this ever come close to production. Right now, I just think it’s neat.

And the first housing development with glowing trees just has to be named “Lothlorien.”

Via Real Clear Science.