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Tag: tasks

APOPO, A Wonderful Non-Profit Organization That Trains Giant Rats to Sniff Out Bombs and Tuberculosis

Rat in Field

We train rats to save lives.

The Belgian non-governmental (NGO), non-profit organization APOPO has made it their incredibly admirable mission to train the highly intelligent African giant pouched rats aka HeroRATS to use their noses for such humanitarian purposes as expediently detecting bombs in post-conflict countries and detecting tuberculosis in developing countries, thus potentially saving the lives of thousands of people. The rats are trained from a young age and are rewarded through positive motivation.

APOPO trains the rats through operant conditioning, using a combination of a click sound and food rewarding. Training starts at the age of 4-5 weeks, with socialization. The young rats are weaned from their mothers and APOPO’s trainers begin socializing them to the sights, sounds, and textures of the human world. Once our rats are six weeks old, click training begins, where we teach the rats to associate a click sound with a food reward – usually banana or peanuts. After two weeks at this stage, the rats learn that click means food, and are now ready to be trained on a target scent. After these steps, our rats specialize in a target scent in either TNT for detecting landmines or TB for detecting TB in human sputum samples. After odor imprint, the complexity of their tasks gradually increases until they reach the final training stage where they have to do a blind test in order to be accredited.

As of this date, none of the HeroRATS have died in the line of duty and the trainers take special care to apply sunscreen to the rodents’ ears when they are working outside. Anyone wishing to contribute to APOPO can either donate directly or “adopt” a HeroRAT with an ongoing subscription.

Rat and Trainer

Rat 1

Nose

A Dissolvable Miniature Origami Robot That Folds Itself, Walks, Swims, Carries, Digs, and Climbs

   

MIT scientists premiered their amazing Untethered Miniature Origami Robot that is able to self-assemble, walk on various surfaces, swim in shallow water, carry small items, and climb up different grades at the IEEE 2015 ICRA Conference in Seattle, Washington.

…we present a novel single-sheet structure that self-folds into a centimeter-sized mobile robot that subsequently walks, swims, and dissolves. The robot is controlled using an external magnetic field exerted by embedded coils underneath the robot. Equipped with just one permanent magnet, the robot features a lightweight body yet can perform many tasks reliably despite its simplicity. The minimal body materials enable the robot to completely dissolve in a liquid environment, a difficult challenge to accomplish if the robot had a more complex architecture. This study is the first to demonstrate that a functional robotic device can be created and operated from the material level, promising versatile applications including use in vivo.

Miniature Origami Robot

Origami Robot

Origami Robot Specs

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will Russia sell its entire space program?

” …immediately after spacecraft separation, a series of telemetry problems were detected… “


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 In recent weeks some at the Russian Federal Space Agency – Roscosmos (re-branded in 1992)  have seriously started to doubt their ability to conduct even the simplest of tasks in the ever commercializing space

industry.  The agency’s loss of Progress 44 in 2011, and now the same for Progress 59 in April of 2015 to a similar incident, have been costly.

This is added to the fact that Roscosmos has also lost six Proton

rockets in the last three and a half years at $55.5 million a piece (not counting contents/cargo). These setbacks have pushed some Russian physicists, engineers, and even program managers to question the very existence of their jobs.  

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 “Almost immediately after spacecraft separation, a series of telemetry problems were detected with Progress 59,”

“After the rocket exploded all I could think was, not again.”

– Russian scientists told a NASA spokesman

   

 The Russian Federation’s Proton-M rocket is the primary competitor of SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket. Both of these delivery systems can transport approx. four and a half tons into geostationary orbits and have the ability to dock with the ISS. These

are huge loads for today’s standards. The problem the Proton-M has repeatedly faced is its ability to successfully escape the Earth’s gravitational pull. This is key for space operations and a problem Russian scientists have battled for decades.

“Everything appears to be working correctly and then, bam, – it is a fireball!” – Systems control specialist Dimitri Matviyenko told one reporter.


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In 2001 Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX traveled to the Russian capital of Moscow to discuss purchasing a couple of ICMB’s –

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (minus the ballistics hopefully). This is how SpaceX was really born. Before him there were others as well.


The general consensus of the International Space Community has been overwhelmingly similar.  When will Russia sell it’s space program? It wouldn’t be the first time the former communist

The totalitarian state sold its rockets to the highest bidders. It’s all simple economics. In the world of technology and transportation, it’s sink or swim. Russia had a good run and helped pave the

way as a pioneer in the industry of space exploration. Bankrupting yourself twice in half a century doesn’t seem like the best economical decision though.

In the words of Neil Young, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away,”.. and the Russian Space Program is certainly pulling this one off.

 

     

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