Hi there, and welcome to my weekly Robot Update. This is wear I do a round up of what is going on in the Robot news around the world, so stay tuned.
Hi Guys, I’m Philip English from robophil.com, and welcome to the Robot Weekly update number 13.
U.S. Navy unveils robotic firefighter
Shipboard procedures such as fire drills, on-board alarms and locking fire doors may have gone a long way to mitigating the danger of fire at sea, but the US Navy is looking at new technology to help it battle the threat. Its latest solution is to send fire-resistant metal men into the smoky, red- hot holds of its fire-stricken warships, throwing fire retarding grenades and assessing damage with a camera that can see through smoke. Called the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR), the team at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) chose a humanoid-type robot as the best way of negotiating the narrow passageways, ladders and hatches (all designed for human mobility) of a modern ship. SAFFiR stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 143 pounds. The unique mechanism design on the robot equips it with super-human range of motion to maneuver in complex spaces. The team equipped the robot with a suite of sensors that include a camera, a gas sensor and a stereo infrared camera that will allow it to find its way through the choking black smoke that would deter human firefighters. Its upper body has been designed to manipulate fire suppressing equipment and even to throw propelled extinguishing agent (PEAT) grenades. The robot, say developers, can handle a fire hose on its own. With enough battery power for 30 minutes of firefighting, SAFFiR is capable of walking in all directions, balancing in rough seas, and stepping around obstacles.
Check In to Japan’s Creepy Robot Hotel
The robot will check you in, take your bags, and escort you to your room in a new Japanese hotel that hopes to free itself of human employees. The Henn-na Hotel, set in the middle of a theme park in Nagasaki, Japan, will become the first robot-staffed hotel when it opens this summer. These metal-and-silicone employees will speak and understand Chinese, Japanese, Korean and English, ensuring that tourists near and far can interact with the startlingly human-like maids, receptionists, and porters. They look human, if a little addicted to Botox and fillers. The plans, announced by the Japanese government at the end of January, show off a prototype check-in counter lined with identical female bots.
Japan’s love hotels often don’t have human employees. “The point is that the customers
want the option of discretion and privacy from the moment they step inside. They get
their room code from a machine, and pay at a machine. The challenge now will be to see if robots can offer satisfactory customer service at the higher-end Henn-na Hotel. Only 10 of these robots will be deployed on launch—three at the front desk, four porters, one at coat check, and the rest to clean. Ten humans will accompany them for now, but the hotel says it hopes robots will someday comprise 90 percent of the staff. he company is banking on the robot draw, and its surprisingly low prices: Each room will start around $60 and will rise as demand does. They have little doubt that it will. A second structure that will double the available rooms is under construction for 2016, ready for the onslaught of visitors eager to test, taunt, and, likely, be outsmarted by their metallic soon-to-be overlords.
Hospitals cut costs with robots
Hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area are using robots called Tugs to take over many of the everyday tasks involved in tending to patients. The bots are programmed to deliver food and drugs, pick up waste and laundry, and
to travel the halls without crashing into people The University of California, San Francisco hospital recently began using the machines, and the nearby El Camino hospital has had a fleet since 2009. Hospital administrators say the rolling electronic porters can help bring down the “absurd” costs of healthcare in America mostly by limiting the ranks of hospital staff. The bots are not cutting existing jobs, but rather are redirecting human labor to more fulfilling tasks and saving hospitals from having to add additional staff.
The Tugs travel using maps loaded into their “brains” and have other features, such as biometric security measures, to ensure the drugs they carry reach only the right doctors. They are also built to be courteous—they beep softly as they roll down hallways to warn people of their approach. Human hospital workers have already begun giving the robots childlike monikers—naming them after fruit or Disney characters. Costumes matching the names may be on the way—one hospital is already seeking Disney’s permission to dress one up like a robot from the movie Wall-E.
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