Friday, November 30, 2012

LEGO Robots are NOT toys! Ask NASA if you don't believe...

" How a space station astronaut drove a LEGO robot on Earth

Prototype for new concept of 'Interplanetary Internet' communications tested"

"NASA and the European Space Agency have tested out a prototype system that may one day help enable Internet-like communications between Earth and robots on another planet.
Astronaut Sunita Williams, commander of the International Space Station's current Expedition 33 mission, used NASA's experimental Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to drive a small LEGO robot at the European Space Operations Center in Germany late last month. The European-led experiment simulated a scenario in which an astronaut orbiting another world controls a robotic rover on the planet's surface, NASA officials said.

"The demonstration showed the feasibility of using a new communications infrastructure to send commands to a surface robot from an orbiting spacecraft and receive images and data back from the robot," Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.

"The experimental DTN we've tested from the space station may one day be used by humans on a spacecraft in orbit around Mars to operate robots on the surface, or from Earth using orbiting satellites as relay stations," Younes added.

NASA's DTN architecture is a new technology designed to enable standardized communications over long distances and through time delays, agency officials said. At its core is something called the Bundle Protocol (BP), which is similar to the Internet Protocol, or IP, that serves as the heart of the Internet here on Earth.

The big difference between the two is that IP assumes a seamless end-to-end data path, while BP is built to account for errors and disconnections — glitches that commonly plague deep-space communications...."

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Robot explores caves on the moon.

To understand contemporary scientific study and exploration, one must appreciate the need for, and function of, robots - as part of the process. This article on the use of robots to help humans explore the lunar landscape is a good example.

"Roaming robot may explore mysterious Moon caverns - Spelunking rover could scout sites for lunar bases"

"William 'Red' Whittaker often spends his Sundays lowering a robot into a recently blown up coal mine pit near his cattle ranch in Pennsylvania (see video). By 2015, he hopes that his robot, or something like it, will be rappelling down a much deeper hole, on the Moon.

The hole was discovered three years ago when Japanese researchers published images from the satellite SELENE1, but spacecraft orbiting the Moon have been unable to see into its shadowy recesses. A robot might be able to “go where the Sun doesn't shine”, and send back the first-ever look beneath the Moon's skin, Whittaker told attendees at a meeting of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme in Hampton, Virginia, this week.

“This is authentic exploration, this is the real deal,” says Whittaker, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose robots have descended into an Alaskan volcano and helped to clean up the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. “This is really going where none have gone before....”

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Robotics ACROSS the Curriculum

This post to introduce a topic to be explored thoroughly over the next 6 months, the application of student robotics to learning across the curriculum... including, beyond STEM learning. How can robotics, with its ultra-high student interest and engagement levels, impact learning in English Language Arts (as well as foreign language), Social Studies, The Arts, etc? The following is a first stake in the ground of this new territory. By programming a robot (whether it be a fully physical creation, or simply a virtual figure - or perhaps, just text to speech software) the student becomes the coach, allowing for ways to conceptualize the tasks involved in a fresh and inspiring way...


Friday, November 2, 2012

Solar Powered Robots

As folks all around me clear away the rubble and curse the fates (and our local power utilty) for the mother of all blackouts that Hurricane Sandy has presented us, my thoughts are turning to all things solar powered :) Here are 3 videos on Solar Powered Robotics for students. The solar dimension is something that really should be included in robotics learning, or perhaps, it may prove to be the entry point for Getting Started with LEGO Robotics or other varieties of student-level, kit-based robotics. Below are 2 LEGO Robotics items and one from another provider. What's key is that we foster student consideration of not just what robots are and what they can do, but how those robots are powered and where that power comes from!