Technology is a double-edged sword whose sharp edges often rub together. One side benefits mankind and the other, well, the other allows for the creation of weapons that help us to better annihilate our brethren. The world of cyberbots is a cosmos where the two edges can meet and live happily ever after as sort of indicated below.
Consider the “Pincher”, a formidable battlebot that hails from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Originally designed as roadside bomb or an improvised explosive device (IED) countermeasure, the Pincher utilizes pencil-sized rockets, which pierce the IED and cause burning rather than an explosion. IEDs are often the weapons of choice in terrorist warfare guerrillas or conflicts with commando forces.
The Pincher’s components include: sensors, a small, remotely-operated platform, aiming devices and a laser pointer. The battlebot works by a process known as deflagration, in which incendiary materials destroy the explosive charge. Still in experimental stages, its creators hope it will become operational within a year.
The mechanical exoskeleton known as Cyberdyne HAL-5 is a work in progress aimed at assisting the elderly and/or people with disabilities or weakened muscles due to spinal chord injuries or stroke. Although the company name is a sci-fi reference to robots who turn against humans, its creators “strongly believe that technologies should be designed for the benefits of humankind.” This wearable robot supports its own weight and it can multiply the strength of the wearer from 2 to 10 times, depending on the model HAL and the wearer’s personal strength.
HAL’s battery can run for up to five hours and according to designer Professor Sankai: “Currently we recommend the users to stay inside for safety. However we specially designed HAL for climbing mountains and HAL can work even in the snow at 4000 meters height. In the near future, it will be possible to be worn outside under specific safety instructions and the usage guidelines.”
Lockheed Martin’s HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton has several functions both for civilian and military use. While this particular model does not increase arm strength, it does augment the user’s capacity to carry heavy loads by transferring the weight to the ground. It can also accelerate the wearer’s running speed up to 10mph in short bursts. The HULC can also benefit soldiers on the ground.
Armed and not so dangerous robots are well on their way to becoming part of humanity’s arsenal of weapons for mobility improvement as well as national defense. There seems no end to the ever-expanding parameters of the world of technology; its long arms keep reaching for new and different ways to benefit mankind.
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