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Science Forum

  1. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    10 Jun '11 19:49
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-japanese-ministry-self-defense-sphere-robot.html

    I made comments at the end.
  2. 11 Jun '11 08:03
    From the webpage:
    The robots cost about $1000 to produce per unit, which is extremely inexpensive when you consider that some robotics programs can cost thousands or even millions of dollars.
    But it isn't a robot. So far it is little different from a remote controlled helicopter and so any price comparison should be made with those (which in some cases are far cheaper).
  3. Standard member mikelom
    Ajarn
    11 Jun '11 12:01
    I think it could be quite novel, especially for taking the view of a window cleaner.
  4. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    12 Jun '11 00:01 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    From the webpage:
    [b]The robots cost about $1000 to produce per unit, which is extremely inexpensive when you consider that some robotics programs can cost thousands or even millions of dollars.

    But it isn't a robot. So far it is little different from a remote controlled helicopter and so any price comparison should be made with those (which in some cases are far cheaper).[/b]
    The term robot can be extended to any machine that does a job autonomously, or under remote control, some form of intelligence behind it, human or silicon.

    In this case, it is just an intermediary to a much more useful device with a significant payload. For instance, the batteries used on it now limit it to flights lasting only a few minutes but the advent of methanol fuel cells would give ten times the bang for the buck of weight so it is just in the development stage.

    The thing I like about it is no second rotor needed to counteract rotation, just put the fins at the proper angle to counter that force. I like that the spherical body style protects itself. It is pretty quiet so it could be used in military recon pretty effectively, especially at night with IR cameras. Nothing like a good close up look at your enemy.
  5. 12 Jun '11 07:36
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    The term robot can be extended to any machine that does a job autonomously, or under remote control, some form of intelligence behind it, human or silicon.
    Then it shouldn't be compared cost wise with other robots that have far more functionality. They should have compared it with remote controlled toy helicopters (which is what it is so far).

    It looks to me like the mass would be higher than a typical helicopter design. I doubt it would be quieter. The only clear benefit is durability. Do you think it is easier to control than a typical helicopter? Would adding a few fins to a helicopter not have the same benefits?

    A better design would probably be a small blimp with hydrogen or helium. What size balloon would be required to carry a small camera and a small propeller?
  6. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    12 Jun '11 18:06
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Then it shouldn't be compared cost wise with other robots that have far more functionality. They should have compared it with remote controlled toy helicopters (which is what it is so far).

    It looks to me like the mass would be higher than a typical helicopter design. I doubt it would be quieter. The only clear benefit is durability. Do you think it is ...[text shortened]... n or helium. What size balloon would be required to carry a small camera and a small propeller?
    Problem with that is it would be a lot larger and therefore would not be very useful by military or rescue people. Hydrogen has gotten a bad rap and I for one would like to see more hydrogen balloons because helium is a precious recourse, rather limited and should not be used for such things as party balloons when there are real scientific uses making such party balloons a huge waste of resources.

    Hydrogen has about 10 percent more lift power than helium anyway.
    I would like to see a hydrogen balloon pasted with solar cells to power it.

    I would like to see sailboats with lightweight flexible solar cells covering the sails, you could power your way out of no wind situations without having to have diesel fuel and diesel engines onboard.
  7. 12 Jun '11 20:24
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Problem with that is it would be a lot larger....
    How much larger? A typical helium balloon is smaller than the device under discussion and could quite easily carry a small digital camera.
    The biggest benefit is much longer potential flying time.
  8. 12 Jun '11 20:35
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    How much larger? A typical helium balloon is smaller than the device under discussion and could quite easily carry a small digital camera.
    The biggest benefit is much longer potential flying time.
    At the cost of manoeuvrability and ruggedness.
  9. 13 Jun '11 06:14
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    At the cost of manoeuvrability and ruggedness.
    Maybe so, but it still seems to me that for many uses, it makes more sense: it would be significantly cheaper and would have longer flying hours.
  10. 14 Jun '11 13:41
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Maybe so, but it still seems to me that for many uses, it makes more sense: it would be significantly cheaper and would have longer flying hours.
    and for all the uses it wouldn't be better for you use what? the invention of this device does not preclude the use of micro blimps if that would be more suited, but it gives you something that can do things blimps can't... like fly into high winds, for example.
  11. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    14 Jun '11 16:22
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    How much larger? A typical helium balloon is smaller than the device under discussion and could quite easily carry a small digital camera.
    The biggest benefit is much longer potential flying time.
    What do you call a typical helium balloon size? I just mentioned the strategic importance of helium and it should not be used in party balloons. I play with party balloons and find I can achieve equilibrium with lift vs fall, keeping the balloon at a steady altitude but the amount of stuff it can carry is in the grams, so it would take a lot larger balloon do to interesting stuff with, which means more power needed to hold in place against wind. I know for a fact that they can hoover in place in still air though. I was even able to make the balloons go up or down by the use of an IR heat lamp.

    This suggests IR lasers on the ground can control the height and maybe even give them power with photocells on the surface, the underbelly of the balloon.