consultants are sandburs

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mitch McConnell wants somebody else's son or daughter to be at great risk of death because he is ignorant, enjoys talking a lot, and grooves in showing his ignorance by thinking he's something else.

This link. Demagoguery. At its worse.

DARPA funds robotics with implementation intent:

Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-12-39
Notice Type: Presolicitation

Synopsis:
Added: Apr 10, 2012 8:59 am
The primary goal of the DARPA Robotics Challenge program is to develop ground robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. The program will focus on robots that can utilize available human tools, ranging from hand tools to vehicles. The program aims to advance the key robotic technologies of supervised autonomy, mounted mobility, dismounted mobility, dexterity, strength, and platform endurance. Supervised autonomy will be developed to allow robot control by non-expert operators, to lower operator workload, and to allow effective operation despite low fidelity (low bandwidth, high latency, intermittent) communications.

See the attached file "DARPA-BAA-12-39 Robotics Challenge" for the full text of the solicitation. The attached Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) is not a draft and represents the FINAL solicitation for the DARPA Robotics Challenge program.

Added: Apr 30, 2012 4:37 pm
This amendment deletes thre [sic] following language that appeared on page 14 and page 15 of the original BAA:

DARPA desires Unlimited Rights, as defined in DFARS 252.227-7013 and -7014,12 to all deliverables generated by the DARPA Robotics Challenge performer under this effort except clearly-identified, widely-available, commercial software tools, with their commercial availability described and substantiated in the proposal.

This amendment also adds a final report deliverable - see highlighted text on page 28 and page 39.

[...]

While the merits of the ongoing Afghan war, the longest in American history by outlasting the duration of the Civil War and US involvement in the World Wars, not to mention Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan hill, is subject to differing views, it seems provident to design, or work toward the design of a robotic instrumentality that can deliver explosive charges into caves in the Hindu Kush mountains for purposes of advantage in disrupting "the enemy" and to do so in an unobtrusive manner so as to not give notice of attack until things go boom.

DARPA-speak in that above quoted item means, if I read it correctly, someone's son or daughter need not risk any such explosives package delivery other than perhaps from a control hut miles away in a secure bivouac.

It makes sense to me, you want a war, you fight it as much as feasible with machinery vs putting our young at risk, after much investment in training and arming them, etc., make it either a personal value, or pure economic relative cost argument, it seems DARPA knows more than the blathering Kentuckian, or at least displays a greater degree of good sense.

Hat tip to Prendergast, for his commentary on robo-squirrel and McConnell's sharp rhetorical skill set.

__________UPDATE___________
More on the SDSU robo-squirrel project and its funding, via a National Science Foundation study grant and not DARPA grant money, here. Clearly, robotics has peaceable as well as wartime utility, and engineer training is clearly a precursor to having a trained workforce capable of engineering innovative robotics.

It does not take a Democrat to understand such a simple concept. But it takes a jackass of a Republican (or Democrats of a like kind, Nast's original characterization being the jackass vs the elephant) to bellow against sensible training of a workforce for the future.

Or pontificate from the Senate speakers' well, and let the Chinese do it - on their dime, for their economic future. That is an alternative.

UW, Madison, squirrel research reported, here.

Robo-squirrel being used to study squirrel behavior against threatening Republicans of the McConnell nature, more of the same coverage kind of, here.

More DARPA robotics reporting, here.

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