Saturday, May 23, 2009

Robot In My Pocket

Along with the Department of Defense's mad scientist division at DARPA, our nation's military contractors also do their part to ensure that our future is filled with unimaginable terror. Household robot maker and military contractor iRobot makes robots that variously vacuum your rugs, clean out your gutters, disarm your IEDs, and invade your enemies' homes to riddle them with bullets. For now these functions are carried out by four specialized robots, but I'm sure they're working on the convergence piece.

They're also working on a cheap networked minibot named Ember to meet DARPA's LANdroid specs, seeking to create fleet of robots to disperse itself through a neighborhood, setting up a wireless network to transmit the information collected by whatever suite of sensors the user might choose to have installed. Ember is small and light, and iRobot hopes to make them robust enough to be hurled into action and cheap enough to be treated as disposable. As if I didn't have enough stuff to carry around in my cargo pockets.


Anonymous said...



Er, I mean, what an ingenious device! I'm sure we'll see great things out of this technology.

Shane said...

"Cheap enough to be treated as disposable"?

I don't know about that - I'm it will ultimately ship with a specialized toolkit, a 300-page TM, and everyone will have to sign hand receipts.

I shudder to think of the deployment/redeployment/change of command inventories for the unit that has 100 of these.

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

Urgh. You're right, of course.

Speaking of specialized toolkits, every time we lay out our system, let's call it SPARTAN SOUL, I have to sort through a 40-piece or so tool bag for the 25 or so pieces that are accounted on the inventory. And every time we have this conversation:

ME: Uhh, is there any way we can just get rid of these extra tools that aren't part of the system inventory?

LT: No, we might still need them.

ME: Then can we get them added to the inventory so at least we don't have to sort them every time?

LT: No, because we don't know where they came from.

ME: ... ... ...

The great irony, of course, is that my frustration would be solved if I simply stole the tools. Then I wouldn't have to sort them, and I'd have some nice tools.