Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

The World's Heaviest Robot 142

Roland Piquepaille writes "This distinction goes to a future autonomous version of the 700-tons Caterpillar mining truck. In this article, Discovery News reports that Caterpillar engineers and computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up to develop this autonomous truck. Japan-based Komatsu has already delivered autonomous mining trucks to its customers, but these are smaller than the Caterpillar ones. Both companies are transforming their trucks into 'robots' for three reasons. Improvements in safety, efficiency and productivity will reduce costs and increase availability."

Robots Learn To Follow 61

Roland Piquepaille writes "Three years after the development of robots that act like rats, UC Davis engineers have designed a control system for robots allowing them to pick up on cues that the leader is about to turn, predict where it is going and follow it. This system mimics the human ability to capture signals — consciously or not — from drivers on the road or people walking in the streets to predict what they're about to do. As the team leader said, 'Robots that are better at following could be easier for people to work with.' With this system, a hospital robot could follow doctors during their rounds."

Birds Give a Lesson to Plane Designers 250

Roland Piquepaille points out a news release from the University of Michigan where researchers are looking to birds and bats for insights into aerospace engineering. Wei Shyy and his colleagues are learning from solutions developed by nature and applying them to the technology of flight. A presentation on this topic was also given at the 2005 TED conference. From the news release: "The roll rate of the aerobatic A-4 Skyhawk plane is about 720 degrees per second. The roll rate of a barn swallow exceeds 5,000 degrees per second. Select military aircraft can withstand gravitational forces of 8-10 G. Many birds routinely experience positive G-forces greater than 10 G and up to 14 G. Flapping flight is inherently unsteady, but that's why it works so well. Birds, bats and insects fly in a messy environment full of gusts traveling at speeds similar to their own. Yet they can react almost instantaneously and adapt with their flexible wings."

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.