What is the most annoying thing about creating really expensive technology?  The cost right?  I mean, firms must spend stacks of cash on research and development and watch their ideas time and time again get broken or damaged beyond repair.  The clever boffins behind the tech must feel gut-wrenching pain as their pride and joy that has taken years of work, suddenly crumbles before their very eyes.

Scout Robots

Well if you work in the R&D field, fear not!  A collective team of researchers have suggested an approach for protecting expensive components in big robots when on difficult terrain.  The premise behind protecting this large and expensive technology maybe expanded to include all sorts of different fields, not just robotics.

The idea is quite simple really; just create a really small version of the product.  Well, kind of anyway.  The team of researchers created an inexpensive robot and sent it ahead of the larger, more expensive one as a sort of scout.  In the scenarios that the team researched, the unanticipated risk was in the form of icy patches, sticky surfaces or rough obstacles.  The help of the expendable robot was used for detecting the hazards ahead of their big brother and thereby saving the larger robot components from being broken in some way.

The IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2014, recently took place at the end of May to the first week in June in Hong Kong. The Researcher team from the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab at the University of California, Berkeley and ETH Zurich presented their strategy at the conference. The team said that future exploration in this research would provide what they said was “path planning algorithms and picket robot formations, which will more effectively detect hazardous terrain.”

So there you have it folks.  The field needs some further research, but in this case anyway, the idea of a smaller and less expensive robot to find the hazards and inform big brother, sounds like good idea all round.  Well, you know what they say ‘ you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.’

[Image via:nutech]

SOURCE: http://phys.org/news/2014-06-big-tiny-robots-risky-ground.html#nRlv