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MicroBots Can Now be Released by the Military During Natural Disasters



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You’re probably familiar with the mad science division of the Pentagon, DARPA. They have spearheaded efforts and made research grants toward such things as self guided smart bullets, robots of war, weaponized artificial intelligence, and just about everything in-between.

Now, they have created yet another technology with an immense potential for abuse: small robots that could be deployed by the government in a time of disaster, supposedly to help clean something up or perform some innocuous task. People who know what the government does might be a bit more skeptical.

Given the title “SHRIMP,” or “Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms,” DARPA claims the reason it wants to develop tiny robots for the US military is some altruistic, natural disaster-solving mission to preserve the safety of humanity.

It sounds just like an episode of Ghost in the Shell. In one episode, Japan used micromachines to clean radiation from the air after a planned bombing.

The robots developed by DARPA aren’t that small, they can fit on a person’s finger like this. These are the components of one of the tiny robots.

The “disaster robots” were justified in a press release from DARPA, in which they claimed that the micro-robots would be useful in, for instance, the event of an earthquake which would cause the destruction of buildings and structures.

DARPA has a Microsystems Technology Office, or MTO. Its program manager for this project, Dr. Ronald Polcawich said:

“Whether in a natural disaster scenario, a search and rescue mission, a hazardous environment, or other critical relief situation, robots have the potential to provide much-needed aid and support.”

“However, there are a number of environments that are inaccessible for larger robotic platforms. Smaller robotics systems could provide significant aide, but shrinking down these platforms requires significant advancement of the underlying technology.”

Articles about this awkwardly tried to reassure the reader that the goal of this technology was “noble.” According to a science website called Edgy Labs:

“These goals remain noble, but the technology to get micro and milli robotics lags behind.

Besides the goal to have SHRIMP robots help in disasters, DARPA wants the program to improve overall understanding of actuator technologies.”

A few distinct factors were considered in the development of such robotics, and they were listed as:

– dexterity
– robotic platform mobility
– strength-to-weight ratio
– load-bearing capacity
– force generation
– overall efficiency
– max work density

Naturally, the development of ultra-tiny robots must be dependent on this strength to weight ratio, and Polcawich emphasized that its a huge factor on the overall endurance and load-bearing capabilities of any sized robot that is “actuator-based.”

Articles about this are emphasizing that “actuator improvements” are a new, important development in the field or robotics, and that DARPA is using their nearly bottomless US military funding to get into it.

It was specifids that different types of actuators are applied to specific kinds of robots. Hydraulic actuators for example have a requirement for incompressible fluid. In contrast, a pneumatic actuator is reliant on pneumatics, or the principle of pressurized air/gas.

Actuating materials may even be used to create artificial robotic muscles. If you understand how cars can be propped up with hydraulic tools, you could imagine how that technology may be used to make robotic muscles.

But see, the last people on Earth you’d want to trust with all this is the US military, and their entity DARPA likes to hold competitions to persuade people to feed them their ingeniuty and intelligence, so the military can harvest it and use it for their purposes. Continuing from Edgy Labs:

“In the spirit of innovation, DARPA introduced a competitive element to their SHRIMP platform research. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will evaluate each project at their Robotics Test Facility.

These evaluations will determine a disaster robot’s potential field functionality through a series of tests involving mobility, speed, load-bearing capabilities, and more.

Perhaps these research projects will affect nanobot technology in the future, as well.”


(Image credit: en.wikipedia, medicaldesignandoutsourcing, darpa, edgylabs)

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Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida



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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son



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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter



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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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