For the first time, a robot has been unionized. This shouldn’t be too surprising as a European Union resolution has already recommended creating a legal status for robots for purposes of liability and a robot has already been made a citizen of one country. Naturally, these have been done either to stimulate discussion before reality catches up or as publicity stunts.
What would reality have to look like before a robot should be given legal status similar to that of a human? For that, we can look to fiction.
Tony Stark, the fictional lead character in the Iron Man movies, has a robot called Dum-E which is little more than an industrial robot arm. However, Stark interacts with it using natural language and it clearly has feelings which it demonstrates from its posture and sounds of sadness when Stark scolds it after needlessly sprays Stark using a fire extinguisher. In one movie Dum-E saves Stark’s life while making sounds of compassion. And when Stark makes Dum-E wear a dunce cap for some unexplained transgression, Dum-E appears to get even by shooting something at Stark. So while Dum-E is a robot assistant capable of responding to natural language, something we’re sure Hackaday readers would love to have in our workshops, it also has emotions and acts on its own volition.
Here’s an exercise to try to find the boundary between a tool and a robot deserving of personhood.
Continue reading “Rise Of The Unionized Robots”
If you could pick a news story you would prefer not to be woken with, it’s likely that a major airport being closed due to a drone sighting would be high on the list. But that’s the news this morning: London’s Gatwick airport has spent most of the night and into the morning closed due to repeated sightings. Police are saying that the flights appear to have been deliberate, but not terror-related.
We’ve written on reports of drone near-misses with aircraft here back in 2016, and indeed we’ve even brought news of a previous runway closure at Gatwick. But it seems that this incident is of greater severity, over a much longer period, and even potentially involving more than one machine. The effect that it could have on those in our community who are multirotor fliers could be significant, and thus it is a huge concern aside from the potential for mishap in the skies above London’s second largest airport.
It is safe to say that if there was indeed a multirotor above Gatwick last night then its operator should be brought to justice and face the appropriate penalty without delay. Responsible fliers are painfully aware of the rules involving multirotor flight, and that airports of any description are strictly off-limits. It matters not whether this was a drunken prank or a premeditated crime, we hope you’ll all join us in saying that anybody flying outside the law should be reported to the authorities.
Continue reading “London Gatwick Airport Shuts Its Doors Due To Drone Sighting”
Bees. The punchline to the title is bees carrying sensors like little baby bee backpacks. We would run out of fingers counting the robots which emulate naturally evolved creatures, but we believe there is a lot of merit to pirating natural designs, but researchers at the University of Washington cut out the middle-man and put their sensors right on living creatures. They measured how much a bee could lift, approximately 105 milligrams, then built a sensor array lighter than that. Naturally, batteries are holding back the design, and the rechargeable lithium-ion is more than half of the weight.
When you swap out brushless motors for organics, you gain and lose some things. You lose the real-time control, but you increase the runtime. You lose the noise, but you also lose the speed. You increase the range, but you probably wind up visiting the same field over and over. If your goal is to monitor the conditions of flowering crops, you may be ready to buy and install, but for the rest of us, dogs are great for carrying electronics. Oh yes. Cats are not so keen. Oh no.