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Vishwa Robotics’ military surveillance ‘bird’ drones to diminish civilian deaths
|November 23, 2011||Posted by Anharris under Cool Companies, Technology|
Recently, at the Cambridge Innovation Center, I happened to meet Bhargav Gajjar, who founded Vishwa Robotics two years ago, while still a grad student at MIT. I was blown away by the product for which he’s received NASA funding: a battery-powered robot, the size and shape of a bird, which, if successful, will serve as a surveillance drone that can be perched, undetected, on a windowsill or statue to provide information about activities in its purview.
Today, Gajjar explains, most drones are the size of automobiles, which means they can easily be seen and shot down. He and his team are currently developing designs for the birds–which will be made to look like species native to particular areas of the world. Operators wearing special goggles will be able to see what the “birds” see and to guide the birds’ movement–having them walk, fly and perch–from miles away. Vishwa’s robotic birds hold larger batteries than recently publicized robotic hummingbirds and, thus, can be used for longer periods of time than the tinier drones.
The immediate goal is to help the military prevent unintended civilian deaths in war zones. And, Gajjar says, the devices should also be useful in industrial or other situations to assess environmental, human or other hazards.
I do wonder how much the devices will cost–and whether they could make it too easy for the wrong people to snoop. Gajjar says the bird/drones will be owned by the military and regulated by the FAA, which will prohibit their use in civilian areas (except with specific permission in times of disaster) in the US. He’s not speculating about how they will be used in foreign nations.
Vishwa Robotics offers consulting and design services in a range of fields, including mechanical design, simulation, advanced control systems and prototyping of complex electromechanical and robotic systems.
According to company materials: “In a world where radical technological advances are taken for granted, Vishwa’s goal is to revolutionize industrial and consumer robotics through applications of new concepts and cutting-edge technologies and to create a better future for mankind.
“Leveraging their experience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s famed Media Lab, MIT Leg Lab, MIT Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab and other advanced research organizations like NASA and US Air Force Research Lab, Vishwa works with a diverse array of experts from various fields.
Vishwa can reached at info “a-t” vishwarobotics.com . A Website is under construction at http://www.vishwarobotics.com
—–Anita M. Harris
Anita Harris is the president of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA, which specializes in strategic outreach for companies and organizations in health, science and technology, worldwide. HarrisCom also publishes New Cambridge Observer, offering commentary on art, science, technology and community.