Human Reflexes Help MIT’s HERMES Rescue Robot Keep Its Footing

MIT’s Hermes is a bipedal robot that uses full-body teleoperation to move with greater agility

11 min read
MIT’s João Ramos wears a teleoperation suit that connects his body to that of HERMES, a bipedal robot designed for disaster response.
Dynamic Duo: MIT’s João Ramos wears a teleoperation suit that connects his body to that of HERMES, a bipedal robot designed for disaster response. Ramos’s reflexes help HERMES keep its footing.
Photo: Bob O’Connor

A sudden, tragic wake-up call: That’s how many roboticists view the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. Reports following the accident described how high levels of radiation foiled workers’ attempts to carry out urgent measures, such as operating pressure valves. It was the perfect mission for a robot, but none in Japan or elsewhere had the capabilities to pull it off. Fukushima forced many of us in the robotics community to realize that we needed to get our technology out of the lab and into the world.

Disaster-response robots have made significant progress since Fukushima. Research groups around the world have demonstrated unmanned ground vehicles that can drive over rubble, robotic snakes that can squeeze through narrow gaps, and drones that can map a site from above. Researchers are also building humanoid robots that can survey the damage and perform critical tasks such as accessing instrumentation panels or transporting first-aid equipment.

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Engineers Are Working on a Solar Microgrid to Outlast Lunar Nights

Future lunar bases will need power for mining and astronaut survival

4 min read
A rendering of a lunar base. In the foreground are rows of solar panels and behind them are two astronauts standing in front of a glass dome with plants inside.
P. Carril/ESA

The next time humans land on the moon, they intend to stay awhile. For the Artemis program, NASA and its collaborators want to build a sustained presence on the moon, which includes setting up a base where astronauts can live and work.

One of the crucial elements for a functioning lunar base is a power supply. Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development lab that specializes in building microgrids for military bases, is teaming up with NASA to design one that will work on the moon.

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Trilobite-Inspired Camera Boasts Huge Depth of Field

New camera relies on “metalenses” that could be fabricated using a standard CMOS foundry

3 min read
Black and white image showing different white box shapes in rows

Scanning electron microscope image of the titanium oxide nanopillars that make up the metalens. The scale is 500 nanometers (nm).

NIST

Inspired by the eyes of extinct trilobites, researchers have created a miniature camera with a record-setting depth of field—the distance over which a camera can produce sharp images in a single photo. Their new study reveals that with the aid of artificial intelligence, their device can simultaneously image objects as near as 3 centimeters and as far away as 1.7 kilometers.

Five hundred million years ago, the oceans teemed with horseshoe-crab-like trilobites. Among the most successful of all early animals, these armored invertebrates lived on Earth for roughly 270 million years before going extinct.

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Automating Road Maintenance With LiDAR Technology

Team from SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge creates system to automate road maintenance

4 min read

Developed by a team of students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as part of SICK's TiM$10K Challenge, their ROADGNAR system uses LiDAR to collect detailed data on the surface of a roadway.

SICK

This is a sponsored article brought to you by SICK Inc..

From advanced manufacturing to automated vehicles, engineers are using LiDAR to change the world as we know it. For the second year, students from across the country submitted projects to SICK's annual TiM$10K Challenge.

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