Massif Rocks!

Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

AFCEA TechNet 2015 – Cyphy Works – PARC

Saturday, September 5th, 2015


Click to view .pdf

This is a cool man portable drone that is tether-powered up to 500′ for persistent ISR surveillance. No need for helium or aerostat techs. While it is not silent, it does not present that “barrage balloon” visual signature that provides instant recognition and navigation landmarks for smelly bearded men for miles around.

The interface and controls are automated. Joe doesn’t need to be a professional or trained drone pilot. Punch in the altitude desired on the laptop software control console and up it goes. Stable to about 35 kts. The whole system can be packed into airline checkable cases.

Submitted by Fly On The Wall

Black Diamond Advanced Technology Receives Contract To Develop Ground Robotic Operator Control Unit

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015


Chandler, AZ – Black Diamond Advanced Technology has been selected by Carnegie Robotics, LLC to develop an Operator Control Unit (OCU) for ground robotic command and control applications.

Leveraging existing technology from its ultra-rugged, combat-proven Modular Tactical System product family, Black Diamond Advanced Technology will design, develop and prototype a chest-mounted / handheld controller according to Carnegie Robotics specifications for next-generation autonomous mine detection and similar unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) applications.

“The OCU will allow Carnegie Robotics end-customers’ the ability to safely and accurately manage their UGVs with an intuitive human-machine interface (HMI) device that takes advantage of BDATech’s legacy of cutting-edge human factors experience as a leading defense electronics OEM”, says Norman Lange, director of product development at Black Diamond Advanced Technology. Engineering design services and material deliveries will be performed from now into calendar year 2016.

Congrats guys!

SOFIC 2015 – VBSS Robot from Helical Robotics / MATBOCK / Kopis Mobile

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Just when you think you can pin MATBOCK down they do something like this.  As former SEALs, the maritime environment is their domain and the necessity of a way to scale the sides of ships was the inspiration for this new VBSS robot.  
MATBOCK teamed with Helical Robotics who holds four patents on robots that can scale vertical obstacles. Then, they worked with hometown team Kopis Mobile to integrate streaming video. the result is a robot that will go right up the side of a ship’s hull to emplace hooks and ladders as well as conduct reconnaissance.



Monday, May 11th, 2015

Robot 1 pager-V5

After years and years of failed VBSS poles and time consuming two-stage climbs, MATBOCK decided to once again take the “out of the box” approach to an industry problem. At SOFIC they will be on display at the docks of the main entrance of the Tampa Convention Center with their VBSS Robot. To setup appointments for SOFIC email MATBOCK at

– Omni-Directional
– 20 lbs lift capacity
– Wireless range: 2500 ft (762m) line of sight
– Current Battery life (Continuous use): 4+ hours
– Stable in 50+ mph winds
– Able to climb on wet surfaces
– Full Motion video securely transmitted to operator’s tablet

Robots To Drive Polaris RANGER At DARPA Robotics Challenge

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015


Polaris Industries has announced that their DARPA Polaris RANGER XP 900 EPS and GEM electric vehicles will be featured at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals.

Polaris DRC RANGER 01

The DARPA Robotics Challenge was created to spur development of robotic tech that can help humans better respond to dangerous conditions and disasters. The Challenge Finals will have robots performing multiple tasks in a continuous course, which will be a simulation of obstacles and challenges that might be encountered in a real disaster situaion. During the Finals, the driving task will require participating robots to drive the RANGER XP 900 EPS on a roadway and weave around obstacles. It will also have to egress the vehicle and attempt to intervene in a mockup disaster site which is too dangerous for humans to perform tasks.

Polaris DRC RANGER 03

“We are excited to continue our relationship with DARPA after the successful DRC Trials in 2013,” said Rich Haddad, general manager of Polaris Defense. “Off-road vehicles are some of the most useful vehicles in disaster relief, and our specialized RANGER vehicles were built to accommodate the robots and provide mobility for the driving task. In the future, the versatility of the RANGER platform would allow a robot to transport tools, equipment, supplies and power around a disaster site, while traversing the difficult terrain often found in disaster situations.”

Polaris DRC RANGER 04

The DARPA RANGER XP 900 EPS was specially customized for the event, featuring a remote SafeStop electronic throttle kill, brake actuation tehcnology, and a 1000lb capacity bed for the robot’s power supply. The cab features a bench seat, and tilt steering for ample room for robots to operate the vehicle. The vehicles also have TERRAINARMOR airless tires for maneuvering in diverse terrains without the risk of a flat tire.

In addition to the RANGER XP 900 EPS, Polaris GEM vehicles will also be in use at the Finals. They will be used to transport the robots after completion of their tasks, as well as working as VIP shuttles, and transporting goods and people throughout the campus.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals will be held on June 5-6, at the Fairplex in Pomona, California.

Darley Defense Days – Helical Robotics

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014


Helical Robotics was on hand to demonstrate their line of MP Series Magnetic Platform robots. Designed for operations in difficult, dangerous, or hard to reach places, MP robots utilize rare earth magnets that are positioned as such they will adhere to metallic surfaces without making direct contact. Their design allows for vertical travel, and the robots can be outfitted with cameras, sensors, and other observational equipment.


The unique mecanum wheels consist of 45 degree angled treads that allow the robots not only to more forwards and backwards, but side-to-side as well. Their operation is fully wireless which allows for an expanded work environment.


Multiple model MPs exist, from small sized observation models, to larger models designed to carry up to a 100 lb. / 45 kg payload.

SOFIC 2014 – ADS Inc / HDT Global Robotics – Protector

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


The Protector from HDT Global Robotics is a small unmanned ground vehicle that performs a wide variety of tasks.


The Protector gives a small unit a great deal of organic rough terrain carrying capacity as well engineering support. It can be configured as Backhoe/Loader, Flail/Roller/Rake, weapon carrier with CROWS or as a mortar carrier, and as a logistics carrier. Additionally, it can offer support CASEVAC, ISR systems or comms relay.


The tracked Protector can carry 1,250 pounds of gear and is <3' wide. It features a 32 horsepower turbo diesel/JP8 engine with 2kw of power available to users. The Protector is available for agency and unit purchase through ADS Inc.


Wednesday, September 26th, 2012


Legged Squad Support System is sponsored by DARPA and manufactured by Boston Dynamics. MCWL will begin to conduct a series of Limited Technical Assessments later this year to begin to learn more about how this technology works with the Squad. This model weighs about 1200 lbs and carries 400 lbs. It’s also smarter and quieter than previous technologies.


The real win here is the Tactical Robotics Controller. Finally, there’s a common, government defined architecture that will control all tactical ground and some small unit air vehicles. Since the interfaces are nonproprietary, there will be one controller and all robotics vendors will build to this standard. The project has been so successful that both the Army and Marine Corps are teaming up to produce a CDD to turn this into a program of record.

The benefits are huge. TRC lowers cost, streamlines training and logistics and offers increased utility. For example, if a ground robot’s controller goes down, any other TRC can be used to take over.

Future developments include dual screens to allow the simultaneous control of two robots.

ARA Robotics Solutions – Nighthawk Mini UAV

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

SSD would like to thank Weapon Outfitters LLC for sharing this report on the Nighthawk UAV with us from the recent NTOA conference in Seattle.

In the last ten years, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology has grown exponentially as technology has taken a leap forward to meet the needs of service men and women in the war on terror.

Information lag used to span days and minutes, as well as down organizational hierarchies… but modern technology has increasingly shortened the lag of gathering of information to delivering that information to the folks on the ground.

The ARA Robotics Solutions Nighthawk is an extremely intuitive and user friendly mini UAV that can support operations at the lowest levels: no need to call up to command to ask for assistance to see what’s right beyond the hill with the Nighthawk.

One of the first things you notice about the the Nighthawk Mini UAV is its impressive, all carbon fiber construction. The fuselage, wings, and “cargo bay” which stores the optical and optional thermal camera are all made of carbon fiber. Known for its lightweight and durability, carbon fiber is an ideal material for this application, and handling the demo Nighthawk, it was clear ARA was quite skilled with this sometimes finicky medium. Impressively, the carbon fiber wings of the Nighthawk are easily wrapped around the fuselage for storage and quick deployment, and can also be easily installed or removed with just two pins, and the payload selection.

A complete system with two Nighthawks, control units, support materials, carry pack for field use, and hard case for transport is estimated to be around $125K. Each Nighthawk is estimated to cost around $25 to $35K depending on imaging payload, as the thermal imaging unit is worth $12K by itself! Adding to the cost are the live video and data transmission hardware, as well as the $6K for a COTS autopilot system. Though a $6K autopilot may seem expensive, as anyone with RC airplane experience will tell you, crashing is very, very easy and can be very expensive considering the electronic payloads the Nighthawk is designed to carry.

Designed with user friendliness in mind, the Nighthawk’s COTS autopilot system that eliminates the need for users to have anything other than a basic understanding of flight. Users just have to launch the unit, and can then control the unit by plotting coordinates on a map, or controlling the Nighthawk with a video game-like interface. With programmed automatic landing, map based “point and click” navigation, failsafe responses to loss of communication or GPS, and other traditionally vexing problems for novice pilots, the autopilot system truly takes out all the hard work from controlling what amounts to a miniature aircraft.

For a guy in the field who jobs and hobbies have nothing to do with RC aircraft piloting, the well designed and complete system offered by ARA Systems looks to be a useful tool for safe reconnaissance.

The Nighthawk has been purchased and fielded extensively by the military, but suffers from FAA regulation in domestic operations by police departments. Though rules have loosened somewhat in the last few weeks, there is still a byzantine layer of red tape which must be navigated by law enforcement agencies to use this unit stateside. Some larger departments are using this system though, so don’t hesitate to give it a shot!

Quick Facts

-Each Nighthawk UAV weighs roughly 2 pounds
-Extensive carbon fiber use for strength and weight
-Modular design allowing for easy reconfiguration, repair, and storage
-10 KM range
-60 minute run time in Lithium Polymer Batteries
-18-30 knots cruise speed
-Built in autopilot system for easy navigation and/or piloting
-Live relay of day time and/or thermal optic capability


Weapon Outfitters LLC

Disruptive Tech – 3D Printed Exoskeleton

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Here’s another story about those pesky 3D printers and the possibilities they represent.

Emma was born with a congenital condition known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). It leaves her unable to control her arms. Her mother found out about the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), an assistive device made of hinged metal bars and resistance bands.

WREX is designed for use in conjunction with a wheel chair so designers had to scale the system down for the tyke Emma. Tariq Rahman, Ph.D, head of pediatric engineering and research, and Whitney Sample, research designer, both from Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware set to work and were able to adapt the dimensions for her use. Additionally, the design can be refitted with larger and larger components as Emma grows. Not only are the current components produced on a 3-dimensional printed but future parts will as well. From all accounts, Emma’s life has been immeasurably improved by this technology. Already, other children are receiving customized variants of WREX.

This story affects our community on so many levels. First, there is the medical aspect. We have plenty of troops who have muscular and skeletal injuries. The lower profile, and the cheaper we can produce these robotic assistance devices the better. Second, is the robotics issue. technologies such as this may actually leap ahead of current military programs. And finally, we have the 3D printer phenomenon. The technology is becoming more powerful, more common and less expensive. It is going to drastically change how we interact with technology in the future. Stories like this should inspire us to apply these capabilities to our own community.