Robot firefighters help mitigate hazardous conditions

first_img(Phys.org)—Events worldwide remind us of the fact that modern-day fire-fighting has taken on added complexities such as explosions, chemical leaks, and nuclear accidents. In fact it was after Fukushima that two brothers in Waterboro, Maine, resolved to start making their fire-battling robots. The two had been working with the military and they realized how applicable their machines might be to help out in natural disasters. “We could have helped out in Fukushima,” they said, and they resolved to come up with robots that can reduce the exposure of human firefighters to out-of-control fires. Their company, Howe and Howe Technologies, offers a set of robots, in modular fashion, that are designed to clear paths, pull debris and bodies out of the way, and spray water, and the robots can be transported on an all-terrain customized truck. The Howe and Howe portfolio of robots includes the “Guardian” that uses its robotic arm to move debris out of the way of the disaster scene, the “Terra Maxa,” to clear the way with a plough, and the “Thermite” which uses a multidirectional nozzle that can spray 600 gallons of water every minute. Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The creators developed the robots over three months. They were helped by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is interested in new gear for first responders. The Thermite alone would cost $98,500. Howe and Howe Technologies have commercialized their firebots for sale. The two brothers note that their helpers are not intended to replace firefighters but to be another tool that human firefighters can use to save lives including those performing the rescue operations. The idea is to use the robots to bring the situation under control. Once under control the firefighters can go in to continue putting out the fire and assist victims. © 2012 Phys.org Citation: Robot firefighters help mitigate hazardous conditions (2012, October 7) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-10-robot-firefighters-mitigate-hazardous-conditions.html South Korea’s little firefighting robots (w/ Video) The Thermite is the centerpiece, a fire-fighting and emergency response robot propelled by caterpillar tracks which is remote-controlled from up to 1/4 mile away. The robot is hand-made from steel and aircraft-grade aluminum. The Thermite is small and compact enough to go through average door widths. Startup time to assume full robot functions is five seconds. The robots can arrive at the scene on the back of a truck called the “Bulldog,” a non-robotic component that acts as the water source for Thermite. The truck is outfitted with 54″ tires and can cross rugged terrain. More information: howeandhowe.com/robotics.php#last_img read more

3 Lessons From Sony Pictures Cautionary Tale

first_img This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. December 29, 2014 It seems like as each day passes, another embarrassment unfolds in the Sony Pictures security breach saga — from unflattering internal discussions to Sony’s ill-advised DDoS counter offensive against the sites leaking their data.But more than just a PR disaster, the headlines spell out a cautionary tale for any business with sensitive data and high-value intellectual property. While the cost of the Sony hack has yet to be assessed, experts predict losses of up to $100 million resulting from the leak of personal financial info, unreleased movies and more.Related: 5 Lessons Leaders Can Learn From the Sony Hacking ScandalThe burning question on any business owner’s mind is: Could Sony have prevented this? Here are three key takeaways from the Sony hack, and what you can do to avoid these mistakes.1. The risk of a data breach is bigger than you think.In terms of probability and losses, the risk of a data breach is huge. If investing in security doesn’t provide a visible enough return to convince your chief financial officer, just look to the statistics: in the past year, 43 percent of companies have experienced a data breach. While the likelihood that you’ll get hacked is high, what makes or breaks your business is its ability to respond.Unfortunately, Jason Spaltro, Sony senior vice president of information security, didn’t get that memo: “It’s a valid business decision to accept the risk. I will not invest $10 million to avoid a possible $1 million loss.” Once he receives the final tally of damages from the Sony hack, he’ll likely revisit that ratio.2. Behave yourself in your emails.One of the biggest embarrassments from the Sony hack has been the leak of several unsavory emails, some of which may cost executive Amy Pascal her job. Racially insensitive comments about the president and declarations that Angelina Jolie is a “spoiled brat” count among her most egregious faux pas. Sony has hired attorney David Boies to try to put the lid on the leaked emails, but now that they’re out in the wild, there are no take-backs.Related: FBI Warns U.S. Businesses of ‘Destructive’ CyberattacksMost of us know better than to let our unscripted thoughts fly in business emails, but most of us also don’t expect our emails to show up on Gawker. If, by chance, you need a reminder to keep it classy, the Sony hack is a powerful example.3. Use email encryption.An email hack can cost you more than your reputation. Consider the sensitive data you send via email, from your business’s financials to important intellectual property. Encryption adds a layer of protection to your data by making it unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key. Even if a hacker manages to steal your data, without the key, they can’t do anything with it. End-to-end email encryption not only helps protect against data leaks, but also keeps your Angelina Jolie disses hush.As the Sony hack continues to prove, with cyber crime, more than money is at stake — besides the PR catastrophe, the threat to some jobs and leaks of unreleased films and other IP, employees and their families have had their medical data exposed and are receiving personal threats.While the loss is staggering, one thing is clear: much of this could have been prevented. By adequately investing in data security and encrypting sensitive files and emails, Sony might have avoided much of the fallout from this data breach.You never know where something you send could show up. Once you hit send, it’s out of your control, right? Wrong. There are new technologies available that give email users back control over how their messages are viewed and shared online. These tools (such as Virtru) provide email users with easy to install, and use, end-to-end encryption and unique privacy controls such as the ability to revoke a message after it’s been sent, restrict forwarding and set expiry for sensitive emails to auto-delete.The hard truth is that sending an email is like sending a postcard — the message is there for virtually anyone to see and use. If you’re an email user who has mistakenly sent an email to the wrong person or wants to ensure your private information remains private and confidential, an extra layer of protection is needed. Just ask Sony.Related: Make Hacking Harder (Infographic) Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Enroll Now for Freelast_img read more

4 Choices Youll Make Running Your Startup in the Age of Robots

first_img There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the threat to our way of economic life from robots and artificial intelligence. Many see major problems, and the fears they express tend to draw attention.Related: Robotics Is Here and Already It’s Changing EverythingTesla founder Elon Musk, for instance, made headlines predicting the end of the world in what resembled — more than a little — the story line from the Terminator franchise. Others have described robots replacing workers in businesses and prompting unemployment rates of 50 percent or more. And still other naysayers have said they suspect robots will take over production, thereby forcing all humans to become marketers.But there also have been those who argue that the threat is exaggerated and robots and AI could be a real benefit, as they could free us from hard and dangerous work. These forecasters have said this will be a win primarily for low-skilled workers, an advantage good for business.Regardless of the eventual outcome, the  advances in technology and software will almost certainly change the economy in both the short- and long term. Regulators will respond to the challenges, raising still more dire predictions — this time from within the tech industry — where observers say they fear government will soon have to pay our salaries and therefore should foot the bill by taxing robots as “employeees.”Whatever the technology revolution eventually looks like, it will change the nature of business and the nature of how startups are managed and decisions made. In short, the robot revolution will affect how we hire and fire, and how human resources operates, in general. In that context, here are four potentail trade-offs every startup will need to make:1. Flexibility vs. productivityThe robots that are already out there can be enormously productive, working with unbeatable precision and stamina, and never needing a cigarette break. They don’t gossip or bully. They aren’t jealous of the next guy getting a raise. But their down side is that they can perform only one or a few very specific or standardized tasks, whereas an employee can chip in wherever needed.The truth is, nothing beats a real human being in terms of the scope of things we can do — and do well. That’s why 20th century economist Ludwig von Mises made a point of stating that human labor is unspecific but that other factors of production are not. “More specific” means more productive but less flexible.In startups, this flexibility is an enormously important quality that beats the productivity of machines any day. Robots and software can carry out specific tasks with superb productivity, but they cannot switch to sweet-talking a neglected customer when that’s what needs to be done.2. Problem-solving vs. productionRobots can’t solve problems that have not first been clearly defined. And even then, they can be used effectively only if a solution is available and engineered.This applies to machine learning and AI too, even though those technologies are super-powerful at finding proverbial needles in data haystacks. They can find patterns that are hidden to the naked (human) eye. But — again, the down side: Where patterns don’t persist and things change over time, these technologies simply don’t work well.Related: Robots Aren’t Taking Over The Job Market Just YetThe typical startup is also far from the structured environment that these technologies require. This is not a question of data availability, but of soft skills and innovative problem-solving.Most startups struggle with tweaking the business model, improving consumer relations and putting out (plenty of) fires. Those changes require advance interpretation and understanding; they need the ability to change quickly and go in a new and not necessarily well-defined direction.And these are qualities that people have but machines do not.Simply put, if the problems in your startup are straightforward or at least can be solved using codified information, then choose technology over people. Otherwise do not.3. The creation of value vs. structure It bears repeating that startups are not smaller versions of the larger company. They’re separate and unique; they do different things and do them differently.Startups also attempt to find and refine their market niche and value proposition, and they struggle to make ends meet, whereas established firms focus on structuring their organization and standardizing production processes.In other words, startups are in pursuit of creating new value and trying to discover the extent of their perceived entrepreneurial opportunity.Large companies, in contrast, are exploiting their opportunity. Their main focus is on profit maximization through cost-cutting, standardizing and streamlining production.So, large companies are solving an entirely different problem, approaching that solution through structure, control and management — which is  fundamentally conducive to automation and, therefore, to machines instead of people.4. Outsourcing vs. in-house productionWhile production in mature businesses is more streamlined and structured, these businesses have often established a cost advantage for what they do in-house.Startups are different and generally cannot afford to think in terms of optimized production volumes or cost minimization. Indeed, cash-flow problems kill 25 percent of startups.It’s more important for startups to avoid large up-front investments than to find the cheapest way to produce. Purchasing the machines necessary for in-house production makes little sense when the firm’s survival depends on cash flow.It could be a recipe for success to not produce in-house, to avoid huge outlays — even if that means higher COGS. If a company is in that positon, it should take advantage of other businesses’ cost minimization efforts by outsourcing.Undoubtedly, machines undoubtedly have a place in business, but humans do, too. The advances in robotics and AI shift the boundaries for what machines can do, but machines alone cannot replace humans in everything. We are unbeatable in dynamic milieus and open-ended tasks due to our “soft” skills: creativity, imagination and problem-solving.Related: Robotics: A Threat to Manpower?And these skills are core to entrepreneurship. So, perhaps there’s no reason to fear technology for the immediate future, if ever. Register Now » Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global 6 min read February 1, 2019 Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box.last_img read more