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Robotics & Beyond

We might hate their interference in future but we also need some helping hands to sustain, survive and prosper...
by Praveen Baratam
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We all have seen Wall-E, the adorable little robot that aggregates and compacts trash on a then abandoned Earth. But I believe such a robot can exist now and save us from our own trash.

Trash - the seldom talked, filthy, big-small problem that we all just brush away and assume it is being taken care of. But the truth is far from what we would like it to be. Everything literally ends up in a dump somewhere and the big-intractable problem is sorting trash. No sorting means no recycling and no recycling is simply not sustainable.

Worlds oceans and water bodies are filled with plastic and chemicals leeching out of our trash and we all are slowly falling sick because of our own trash.

The fact is, Humanity needs a helping hand with trash before it is too late and robots with currently achievable capabilities considering all the advances in machine learning, computer vision and autonomous agents, can really make a difference here. Robots can work in filthy conditions without complaining or falling sick and patiently sort, aggregate and help recycle our trash. Compared to earlier approaches, an ad-hoc autonomous robot similar to Wall-E is key to success in my honest opinion.

And there is lots of money to be made here too. I am hopeful that some pioneering entrepreneurs will find opportunity here - One man's trash can literally be another man's treasure as the saying goes!
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Wall-E as a Trash Sorter & Aggregator
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From times immemorial, we have dreamt of a faithful servant to offload our mundane and dirty duties. Previously we turned to slavery and social segregation for those needs and more recently to machines. But there is still a lot left to desire from our modern day mechanical servants owing to their lack of intelligence and dexterity.

While much progress is being made in the field of AI, we cannot ignore the developments necessary to improve the versatility, precision and dexterity of our machines. Unless they have able hands, legs and bodies like us, they will be restricted to predefined functions such as those in our factories.

Evolution made sure that our physical form is the most suitable one for a majority of our needs and we don't need to look further for inspiration to start with. However there is a problem; we do not yet have a mechanical equivalent to the muscles in our body.

Here is an idea I propose to create an artificial muscle fibril using small permanent magnets and electromagnets arranged in series. The proposed fibril is in short/contracted state normally and when the electromagnets inside it are energized/activated the fibril relaxes. Polarity reversal can strengthen the contraction too. By bundling these fibrils we can create stronger artificial muscles as necessary.
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Artificial Muscle Fibril
 
 
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Manigandan Muthusamy, Evangelist - 4 years ago Edit
Praveen, why don't we start simulating this. I think we could start with Matlab/Mathematics? Ur thought?
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 4 years ago Edit
Simulation would be an ideal course of action with any invention but can be more tedious and error prone than prototyping in my experience. Establishing properties of all the materials is very time consuming!
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Manigandan Muthusamy, Evangelist - 4 years ago Edit
on an another note / thought, why can't the same exoskeleton technology be applied to these robots, i assume they all use hydraulic systems i guess powered by battery / fuel cells. See this company http://eksobionics.com/
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Praveen Baratam, Maven - 4 years ago Edit
The above mechanism should make fine motor movements a piece of cake and enable more compact construction of limbs and extremities compared to hydraulic actuation IMHO.
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