Monday, November 14, 2011

Robot Wars 3: The CanadArm Anniversary

The recent 30th anniversary of the iconic, Canadian built (and recently retired) Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (known nationally as the CanadArm) has provided an occasion to remember the glorious past of the Canadian robotics sector and consider the future, at least according to the November 13th Canadian Press article "Canadarm milestone comes at pivotal moment for robotics."

But before considering the future, Canadian robotics experts might want to take a look at some of the current, immediate competition.

The article quotes Canadian Space Society (CSS) President Kevin Shortt as stating that the original Canadarm was a great piece of equipment that Canadians can be proud of — but it's history. According to Shortt:
We can't continue to keep going back to that because countries like Germany and Japan are hot on the heels of building their own technology in that respect. I think they're knocking on our doorstep.
Here's a sample, from the German Aerospace Centre, of the types of machines that are knocking at our door.

Of course, there are multiple other robots in space and on board the International Space Station (ISS) including the Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) for the ISS Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) module and Robonaut 2, built by the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC).

There is also the Canadian made CanadArm 2 and the Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) or DEXTRE. It's worthwhile to compare the operations of the CanadArm to the other examples listed above.

For those looking to learn a little more about Robonaut 2 and DEXTRE, it's worth checking out my April 17th, 2010 post "The Coming Robot Wars."

For those looking to learn a little more about CanadArm developer Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) and its ongoing problems with follow-on Canadian technology based on the CanadArm, it's worth checking out my October 31st, 2010 post "Robot Wars II: MDA Attacks!"

And anyone looking to learn a little more about about the real state of the art in robotics is encouraged to take a look at the up coming 8th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence (URAI), which will be held in Incheon, South Korea from November 23rd - 26th.

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