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Robot Firefighter

It is undisputed that firefighting is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. As of March 2017, there have been 35 reported firefighter fatalities (usfa.fema.gov). Countless firefighters around the world constantly put their lives in danger to save others.

Howe and Howe Technologies’ Thermite RS2-T1 aims to eliminate that statistic. The firefighting robot is capable of unloading 2500 gallons of water per minute, taking water from two separate fire trucks.

The Thermite is constructed of A440f steel, aircraft 5 grade aluminum, and other strong and robust components capable of withstanding the forces from the giant hose at the front. It’s remotely controlled from up to a 1/4 mile away, and is able to fit through doors to combat fires indoors, removing firefighters from danger. It has a draw bar pull of 1270 lbs on asphalt (1040 lbs on concrete).

The Thermite’s capabilities relive firefighters from some of the job’s greatest dangers. Each hose typically takes 2-3 firefighters to keep under control, which means up to 6 firefighters for 2 hoses, 6 firefighters whose efforts could be better be used to save people from debris and whatnot. Howe and Howe Technologies are working on the Thermite T3, which will hopefully increase capacity and firefighter safety for years to come.

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Smart chairs ferry the leg-hurt across lengthy lines


For once, Tesla isn’t the star of the show.

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Smart Helmet Helps Diagnose Football Injuries

Football is back! (yes, robotics enthusiasts can also enjoy a bit of handegg)

As ESPN and Fox Sports start spewing oceans of player stats, one stat that often gets ignored is probably the most important; head injuries. This isn’t just a problem in the NFL, it’s an issue wherever the sport is played, in colleges, and especially in high schools. Just two weeks into the high school football season, there have been 7 football related deaths. Last year, there were 13 the entire season. According to the NFL’s Injury Data results (released in Jan. 2016), there were 182 concussions during the 2015 regular season, a 58% increase over the 2014 season.

These injuries keep happening in part because there’s no real way to quickly diagnose players on the field, no way to determine which players are still good to play or not. A new helmet developed by students at Texas Tech will be crucial to making sure players get the treatment they need. Their helmet can detect the location, duration, and force of an impact, as well as rotational acceleration. It then sends the information to a team of doctors, and will also send the information to linked smartphones.

The device, named Minus Tau (Tau is a protein that forms in the brain after someone gets a concussion, and is linked to dementia, suicide, and depression), can be fitted to any current helmet. Hopefully this device, combined with coaches’ and players’ willingness to get help, will make the gridiron a much safer place.


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Is the Terminator Finally Here?

Skynet is nigh! Skynet is nigh! That might very well be your reaction after seeing this video.

Robotics enthusiasts and experts alike, for years, have been trying to make the most human-like robot possible. It’s obvious what that entails; an accurate and believable replication of the human body’s 206 bones and 640+ muscles.

Cut to the researchers at the Suzumori Endo Research Lab. They’ve fitted a fake skeleton with relative quantities of multifilament artificial muscles that contract and expand when exposed to an electric current. Although the muscles at this point are only strong enough for movement (they can’t pick anything up just yet), the end result is eerily smooth.

Let’s just hope Sarah and John Conner arrive just as we need them to stop the humanoid robot uprising.

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Talking Hands

Sign language was a huge step for the deaf community to communicate with others. However, the population at large isn’t trained in sign language, making life even more difficult. That is, until these two students from the University of Washington came along.


Sophomores Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for creating SignAloud, a pair of gloves that translate American Sign Language (ASL) into text and speech. Each gloves holds a set of sensors that read and record gestures, which are then translated into text or speech.

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Tesla’s Triplets


Yeah, yeah, I know…I’m late to the Tesla hype train. Sorry, I’ve been a little busy.

Disclaimer aside, with the recent addition of the Model 3 to the family, Tesla’s S.3.X-y lineup is now complete. First came the Model S, then X, and now the more wallet friendly Model 3. Some of you might just know that Teslas are all-electric, but might now know much beyond that, so let’s take a look at how and why these cars are being dubbed as the future or automobiles.

First, let’s take a look at a Tesla car’s biggest selling point; being 100% electric. The Model S, 3, and X all use specially designed and manufactured brushless motors, powered by a battery of up to 90 kWh. These motors provide torque instantaneously, and races off the line faster than a Lamborghini AventadorThe motors are expected to last over 200,000 miles. The large battery packs are also tucked low into the car’s drivetrain to lower the center of gravity, is able to be swapped out easily as well, and gives each Tesla a range of over 200 miles per charge.

Now, we can take a look at some extra features and amenities that make Tesla cars so great. Each model Tesla comes with a 15+ inch center dashboard touchscreen that controls all of the car’s features, moving the seats, climate control, and even BIOWEAPON DEFENSE MODE. While most people don’t exactly see a point to this, it’s pretty exciting. Now you don’t have to smell manure as you’re driving through the farmland on Highway 5! (I have a sensitive nose…this is a real issue). Now you might be thinking to yourself, “This site is called ‘Because Robots’, this isn’t a robot!’ Yes, you’re right, it’s not, but it might as well be considered one. Why? Autopilot mode. This car literally drives itself. Sensors in the car can sense when cars are getting too close to you, and cameras can read and follow the lines on the ground.

Ok, this post is getting long.

Now that we’ve established Teslas as basically being fully fledged robots, here’s a list of more cool things. Falcon Wing Doors. Ludicrous Mode, the Summon Feature, Self Parking…

All this is excluding the Tesla’s first car, the Roadster and the innovations like the Tesla Superchargers and Tesla Powerwall. And as electric and autonomous vehicles start to take over and eliminate the need for human drivers, it’s nice to know that the proliferation at least started with something human…S.3.X.

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SpaceX Lands Rocket on a Boat

I’m sure you all have heard already, but SpaceX, a space exploration company founded by Tesla and PayPal founder Elon Musk, has successfully landed a rocket on a barge in the middle of the ocean. After 4 failed attempts, this marks a huge milestone in how we are able to reuse the tools that help us reach the furthest corners of our cosmos.

But why is this so exciting, and why should we care about it? Well, first you have to understand how we did things previously. A rocket booster would go up into space, fall off and land in the ocean, where, sometimes it would be fished out and we’d try to fix it, but oftentimes, would be completely unusable. The relaunch-ability of the Falcon 9 rocket reduces that cost tremendously.

But why land in the ocean, why not just land on land? Because the rocket exits Earth’s atmosphere in an arc, and not in a straight line, when it’s ready to come back down to Earth, it’s most probably over the ocean somewhere. Instead of using fuel to shoot itself back over to land, and re-position itself so it’s right side up, and come to a fixed point, the rocket and barge can work together to find a spot where the rocket can save fuel and where the seas aren’t so rough.

And there you have it. Further proof that SpaceX is a big deal, but you already knew that.

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