Already, robots are going where workers cannot, and they are absorbing some of the most dangerous and unappealing jobs.
Real Earth’s ground level and underground mapping technology can be used by first responders to gain a clear view before they step into a dangerous environment. The company’s sensor-driven robots rely on RobotEye, a one-of-a-kind platform that delivers unmatched speed and precision. Real Earth can send robots into sewer systems to map out leaks, to the moon to map crevices and into dangerous locations, such as nuclear environments and volcanoes. Recently, the company was awarded first place in Microsoft’s Indoor Localization Competition, which was held in Vienna, Austria. The recognition is further validation of the company’s ability to provide best-in-class, real-time mapping and localization solutions.
Near Earth Autonomy uses sensor technology to navigate its aerial autonomous vehicles. The company’s prototype helicopter can be controlled from up to six miles away, using nothing more than an iPad. A laser scanner gathers hundreds of thousands of images per second, enabling the vehicle to build in real time a map of the surrounding geography. With this information, the helicopter can verify the safety of its designated landing spot, and modify its trajectory as needed to select a safer alternative landing spot. Because the helicopter can safely land in a white out and other degraded environments, it provides an ideal tool for military personnel and first responders. The company’s technology is also gaining traction in commercial environments, where it provides an alternative for expensive and dangerous jobs, such as bridge, power line and mine inspections.
HEBI Robotics derived its name from the Japanese word for ‘snake,’ a shout out to the company’s first claim to fame, a robot that maneuvered with a snake-like agility. HEBI’s vision is to improve the very rigid movements typically characteristic of robots.”We believe,” says Dr. Choset, “that we are on the cusp of a revolution that will change the paradigm of how robots are built, and we’re doing this by integrating low-cost, high-performance robotic modules.”
Dr. Dowling, a graduate of CMU, returned to Pittsburgh after living a number of years in Boston. The draw, he says, was the cluster of small robotics companies and large R&D opportunities. “The companies are here,” he notes, “but most are still under the radar.”
Dr. Singh has been part of the Pittsburgh robotics scene for 30 years. “Pittsburgh’s been good to us, and now Kevin [Dr. Dowling] and I are thinking of what we can do for the region. We hope to see Baum Blvd., between CMU and Pitt, become an avenue of high-tech companies.”