A Little Robot Survives A Battle With Hurricane Sandy

Off the coast of New Jersey, a Wave Glider autonomous robot collected data from inside the storm

1 min read
A Little Robot Survives A Battle With Hurricane Sandy

Back in August, a Wave Glider robot named Alex, from Liquid Robotics, headed out into the Caribbean on a mission to measure ocean temperatures and improve hurricane forecasting.

This week, Alex’s sibling robot, Mercury, battled directly through Hurricane Sandy 160 km due east of Toms River, NJ, and the now-decimated Jersey Shore. It met the storm at the point labeled 110 in the map below and traveled with the hurricane to the point labeled 100.

The wave-powered robot transmitted weather data in real time, recording a plunge in barometric pressure of over 54.3 millibars to a low of 946 millibars as Sandy approached the coast. (Typically, atmospheric pressure at sealevel is 1013 millibars). It clocked winds at up to 70 knots, or 130 km/hour.

Photo: top: a Wave Glider robot in the Pacific earlier this year. Below: Wave Glider Mercury's path during Hurricane Sandy. Credit: Liquid Robotics

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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