When the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi river in Minnesota collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people, it was because of defects in steel plates that safety inspectors had missed. A new robot helper could help avoid such tragedies by making bridge checks cheaper and more accurate. Surveying a bridge used to involve drilling into the road to check the concrete and steel structures underneath. Although radar has simplified the work since the 1980s, sending out teams of people to check bridges is still expensive and can require extended road closures. The upshot is that many bridges are overdue a health check – thousands in the US alone, for instance.
RoboCup, which first started in 1997, was originally established to bring forth a team of robots that could beat the human soccer World Cup champions. Twenty years on, RoboCup is so more than just a soccer competition. In fact, the competition has grown into an international movement with a variety of leagues. Teams compete against each other in four different leagues and many sub-competitions, including home, work, and rescue missions. The complexity of missions in RoboCup requires intelligent, dynamic, sensing robots that can react to chaotic and changing environments.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For more than a year Florida failed to do national background checks on people applying for concealed weapons permits. An inspector general's report sent to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2017 highlighted the problem. It said an employee stopped doing the checks because she couldn't log into the database. Putnam is running for governor and has pushed to make it easier for people to get a concealed weapons permit. Florida has more than 1.9 million people licensed to carry concealed weapons.
Autonomous bridge-inspecting robot could save lives by using smart sensors and machine learning algorithms to detect dangerous defects. Researchers at the University of Nevada have developed an autonomous robot, designed to inspect bridges and detect any structural damage before it can cause potential injury. The four-wheeled robot bridge inspector, called Seekur, uses a variety of tools to carry out its important task. These include ground-penetrating radar for looking beneath the surface of a bridge for underlying instabilities, sensors designed to search for possible corrosion of steel or cement, and a camera which analyzes cracks in the bridge's surface. A machine learning algorithm then analyzes all of this information and uses it to generate a color-coded map, which is passed on to (human) engineers to make them aware of weak spots.