Tag Archives: disaster preparedness

Web-Based Forest Monitoring Tool

TexasDrought_2011-0929
Detail: Texas drought, September 2011. (Photo credit: USDAgov.)

Satellite and web-based tools that use technologies developed by NASA are helping natural resource managers in U.S. forests to monitor, assess, and respond to “unexpected changes.” The tools, dubbed ForWarn, were developed in response to the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003.

“ForWarn epitomizes the type of product envisioned when the Threat Assessment Centers were created. This tool literally puts space-age technology into the hands of forest resource professionals. It’s a remarkable collaborative achievement.”

— Danny C. Lee, Director of the Eastern Threat Center, USDA Forest Service

Some of the possible types of forest disturbances that the tools can detect include those “caused by insects, diseases, wildfires, extreme weather, or other natural or human-caused events.” The tool is available at http://www.forwarn.forestthreats.org.

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/ufs-ufs032112.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Advertisements

Robot Roundup – March 1, 2012

Biomimetic Robotic Fish
Robot fish may one day help to save living ones.

Shopping around for your next robot chef? Thinking about getting a little exercise with a virtual workout partner? Maybe you’re planning on taking your autonomous auto out for a spin, or searching for ways to lead wildlife to safety in the wake of a natural disaster?

As the following summaries show, scientists are working overtime to help make each of those visions a reality.

Swishy Robot Fools School – http://www.poly.edu/press-release/2012/03/01/what-makes-robot-fish-attractive-hint-its-moves

Researchers at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute (NYU-Poly) are exploring ways robots might help to guide wildlife away from environmental disasters and human-created dangers in the future. Their findings show that biomimetic robotic fish can actually assume leadership roles, which is described in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The paper reports that live fish in the experiments appear to “follow in the wake of the biomimetic robot fish, taking advantage of the energy savings generated by the robot.”

These experiments may open up new channels for us to explore the possibilities for robotic interactions with live animals — an area that is largely untapped. By looking to nature to guide our design, and creating robots that tap into animals’ natural cues, we may be able to influence collective animal behavior to aid environmental conservation and disaster recovery efforts.” 

— Maurizio Porfiri, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Robot Innovations for Everyday Life in the Future http://www.kit.edu/visit/pi_2012_8981.php

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and  the FZI Research Center for Information Technology are presenting innovations for everyday life in the future at CeBIT, the trade fair that showcases digital IT and telecommunications solutions, which will run from March 6 to 10, 2012, in Hanover, Germany. The innovations from KIT and FZI include a humanoid kitchen robot that will move around and the interactive HoLLiE service robot.

Kitchen Robot Learns by Watching

In addition to recognizing objects and grasping them with just the right amount of pressure, ARMAR, a humanoid robot, can negotiate its environment, understands and executes commands independently, and even learns by watching humans.

ARMAR - Robot
ARMAR can understand and execute commands independently and even learns by watching humans.

Even if you don’t understand German, the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x1G0nkSd9w is entertaining to watch.

Service Robot Interacts Intuitively

HoLLiE (House of Living Labs intelligent Escort) will show how it intuitively interacts with people at CeBIT. The system is designed to provide those who need care with food, medicine, and interactive entertainment.

Thanks to a modern 3D sensor system, HoLLiE can understand the body movement of its counterpart. In the scenario presented, HoLLiE asks its counterpart to do some sports together in order to remain in good shape. This function may be of therapeutic value to elderly people or people in need of care, but also serve to entertain everybody regardless of age.”

— Press Release, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Smart Intersections for Autonomous Vehicles – http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-02/uota-csd021312.php

After building an autonomous car with his students, Peter Stone of The University of Texas at Austin has turned his attention to research on autonomous intersection management.

A future where sitting in the backseat of the car reading our newspaper while it drives us effortlessly through city streets and intersections is not that far away. Computers can already fly a passenger jet much like a trained human pilot, but people still face the dangerous task of driving automobiles. Vehicles are being developed that will be able to handle most of the driving tasks themselves. But once autonomous vehicles become popular, we need to coordinate those vehicles on the streets”

— Peter Stone, professor of computer science, The University of Texas, Austin

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Disaster Tech: Smartphone Apps Provide Assistance for Aid Workers and Victims

Software with the potential to help aid workers quickly and accurately locate missing people has been developed by Dr Gavin Brown and his team of computer scientists in the Machine Learning and Optimisation group at The University of Manchester.

In addition, the team’s REUNITE mobile and web platform supports developments that can help aid workers use a smartphone to quickly recognize individuals affected by malnutrition and that can help people use their smartphones to locate “safe zones” during a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Our results have demonstrated that mobile intelligent systems can be deployed in low-power, high-risk environments, to the benefit of all involved. We believe the refugee aid community will be a strong beneficiary of such technology over the next few years.”

— Dr Gavin Brown, University of Manchester

The researchers hope that the smartphone technology they are developing will not only help to save lives but perhaps also help to relieve the burdens – both financial and emotional – that aid organizations and workers experience.

Learn more at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104111910.htm

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.