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Radiation Robot Makes Troops Safer

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the johnny-five-is-alive? dept.

Robotics 134

Darkman, Walkin Dude wrote to mention a plucky little radiation-proof robot working to make life easier for folks in the military. From the article: "By this time an hour and a half had gone by, and the team was temporarily out of ideas. Phil had estimated that the robot could remain ambulatory in the radiation field for only 50 minutes, and in fact the robot's lower portion was no longer responding to commands. The RAP team, as a precaution against this very circumstance, working with White Sands personnel had tied a rope to M2 before sending it into the work area. The rope, attached to a RAP team winch 100 feet outside the structure, ensured the robot could be hauled out if radiation damaged its drive unit. But radiation shields now blocked a direct haul. M2 was hemmed in. Using a ten-foot-long pole and standing at the edge of the field (which fanned out like a flashlight beam, strongest at its center and weakest at its edges), team members hooked and then tugged at the rope hauling M2. The deflection of the rope's pull slid the robot around a moveable radiation shield without knocking it over. The RAP team's winch then pulled the robot directly out. "

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134 comments

sss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277435)

frist psot robo dood

EXTERMINATE OLDER CODERS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277548)

As we all know, brain cells start to die at 25 years old. By the time programmers hit 40 years old, they produce nothing but bugs while earning higher accumulated salaries and preventing the better younger crowd from achieving full potential. Note how Windows was almost exclusively written by older guys and Linux by younger cooler coders.

In short, older coders are just useless mouths.

Overlord (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277439)

How long till it kills us all

not long, if the robot's a whacko liberal Democrat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277654)

It isn't out-of-control conservatives tossing Molotov cocktails at police officers in San Francisco, burning American soldiers in effigy, and smearing pig's blood and feces on the walls and windows of military recruitment centers across the country to protest on behalf of peace.

  It isn't rage-blinded conservative professors who embrace fragging (the murder of American soldiers by their fellow soldiers on the battlefield) as a legitimate anti-war tactic.

  It isn't vengeful conservatives torching SUVs, condo developments, and research facilities, and targeting biotech and pharmaceutical company employees and their families to protest on behalf of the environment.

  It wasn't mad conservatives sporting "F--- Bush" license plates, punching cardboard cutouts of the president, and vowing to secede after losing the 2004 presidential election.

  It wasn't rabid conservatives who gloated over Ronald Reagan's death or John Ashcroft's pancreatitis.

  It wasn't a gut-busting conservative journalist who vowed to kill herself if Dick Cheney ran for president. (That would be the perpetually aggrieved Helen Thomas.)

  It wasn't hate-filled Republican officials who reportedly screamed "faggot" and "fruitcake" and "I'll break your nose" at their political opponents. (Those were all Democrats: Pennsylvania state legislator Vincent Fumo, California Rep. Pete Stark, and Virginia Rep. Jim Moran, respectively.)

Kent Brockman (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277444)

I, for one, welcome our irradiated robot overlords!

Making the troops safer? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277457)

Making the troops safer? Fails to renew patriot act? News for nerds, propaganda that matters.

there's really no need (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277468)

after all, according to the leftist mass media, there's no weapons of mass destruction

Sad, really (5, Funny)

daeley (126313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277470)

Seconds later, Sarah Connor grabbed the pole and impaled the robot, destroying its primary power supply. Even as its eyes went dark, emergency systems kicked in to begin rerouting secondary and tertiary power systems.

Wise to the design of robots, Sarah and her son, future savior of humankind John Connor, shoved the robot through a nearby doorway conveniently located right above a steel foundry where it dramatically screamed in electronic pain for a few seconds. And then it was over.

"Is it over, mom?" John asked, panting.

Sarah Connor wiped the sweat out of her eyes. "It's over," she said as the familiar industrial movie soundtrack theme began to play. "It's over."

Re:Sad, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277521)

I'M DETECTIVE JOHN KIMBALL!

i'm going to ask you a bunch of questions. you will have to answer them immediately!

you lack discipline!

who is your daddy and what does he DO?

IT'S NOT A TOOMUH!!

Re:Sad, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277574)

STOP IT!

SHUTUP!! Shutup, shutup!

For the first time in my life... I'm... PISSED OFF!

Yes, could I speak to the drug dealer of the house?

No more complaining, no more Mr. Kimble I have to go to the bathroom, nothing!

Re:Sad, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277721)

I'M A COP YOU IDIOT

You missed the best one: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14278369)

I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I'm going
to ram it into your stomach!

what troops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277474)

Where was there anything in this article about "the troops?" Didn't this have to do with irradiating circuit boards?

Re:what troops? (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277748)

These days, everything is more interesting if you add "the troops" somewhere.

"Gas prices affect Wal-Mart sales and the troops."

"The Troops watched as the Patriots lost yet another game."

"Hybrid Electric cars help the troops and other people with gas prices."

"The snowy and icy streets delay troops, commuters."

Re:what troops? (1)

rdoger6424 (879843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277782)

I Know I'll get modded überflamebait, or something horrifying, but I can't resist:

With your sig (- It's not the Macs I hate. It's the Mac users. -), that logic would be:
- It's not the Macs I hate. It's the Mac users and troops. -

sorry.

Could Someone Please Explain This? (3, Interesting)

kadathseeker (937789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277479)

"But radiation that can kill a human also can kill a robot's electronics. Bennett estimated M2 could withstand intense radiation for only 50 minutes." That's alot of elaboration. I know how cells are affected by radiation, and have and idea of how electronics would be, but I haven't heard alot about this problem and don't know for sure. How exactly are electronics affected by this radiation? Cool robot, though. It'll make a great new overlord.

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (3, Informative)

YuriGherkin (870386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277511)

Gamma rays and X-Rays are basically the same thing - ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation can induce currents in a piece of metal that is moved through its field and these unwanted currents can play havoc with the circuits inside a microchip, perhaps even overloading and burning them out. The gamma rays could also alter the bits in the memory chips so the software running the robot could crash.

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (5, Informative)

Scorillo47 (752445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277517)

Ionizing radiations (usually beta/gamma radiation) can affect materials in various ways. For example, an energetic gamma-ray photon (around 0.3 MeV for the Cobalt-60 spectrum) would cause partial ionization of Si atoms in traditional semiconductors. Since the n/p difference is extremely small in a single transistor, you just need a few thousand ionizations in it to make it unusable.

P.S. http://www.nlectc.org/training/nij2005/Conca.pdf [nlectc.org] - some interesting material there.

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277685)

Would the use of tubes in military equipment make it less susceptable to the effects of ionizing radiation? I have heard (more as a rumour) that some equipment in the military still uses tubes just for that reason. But to me ionizing radiation would also ionize the gas in the tubes...

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (2, Informative)

name773 (696972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277792)

and beta radiation would interfere with the tubes, but that's not too hard to shield for.

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278052)

Another problem with tubes is that to accommodate the bulk of a tube-based control computer, the robot would have to be big enough to be cast as the villain in a bad Godzilla sequel.

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (3, Informative)

Scorillo47 (752445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278376)

I don't know, franly, but I am not sure about using tubes because as someone else pointed out, beta radiation (and gamma rays too) would ionize the rarefied gas inside the tube, therefore affecting the flow of electrons (in fact this is one of the principles behind various designs of radiation detectors). But probably it might work in some conditions.

Another solution would be to use hardened semiconductors, with much bigger gates, etc. For example, in space you have cosmic rays (which, BTW are much more energetic than nuclear-generated gamma rays). NASA is using hardened electronic components which are able to withstand the random ionization generated by cosmic rays.

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (3, Interesting)

willgps (939538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278455)

My lab was involved a few years back with an high performance computing experiment with self-healing FPGA's after exposure to ionising radiation.

They flew some off the shelf (non radiation hardened) FPGAs on the FedSAT-1 spacecraft.

I was involved with a different (GPS) payload, but i believe the HPCE payload was able to successfully self-diagnose and correct single gate errors on the chip. (http://www.crcss.qut.edu.au/comp/hpce.pdf [qut.edu.au])

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278388)

Valves, as we call them over this side of the pond, are used in a lot of military radio equipment. They are also used for a lot of high power radio transmitters, but that's probably less to do with radiation hardening and more to do with performance. Semiconductors have a long way to go in the multi-kilowatt world...

Re:Could Someone Please Explain This? (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277540)

Here's some info, relevant material pulled: [cmu.edu]

"There are many different types of radiation effects, many of which cause both mechanical and electrical degradation. Mechanical defects consist of ones that cause properties of materials to be altered. For instance, such defects could alter the mechanical, optical, thermal and electrical properties of metals. Electrical degradation would physically occur during operation. Due to the accumulation of alpha particles, bits can be flipped during operation and cause system failure"

There's more in-depth info out there, but most of the detailed stuff I was trying to access requires memberships in consortiums etc. I was a little surprised by the bitflipping.

hackers (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277492)

" Because the robot lacked a trigger finger to depress and release a drill control, the Sandia team stalked the aisles of local hardware stores, buying cordless drills and other equipment they modified into remotely operated drills, hooks, and grippers."

Awesome, like a poor hardware hacker's dream... a big fat budget for using power tools in a manner inconsistent with their labeling. I think this is the fulfillment of a lot of engineer's reason for being engineers.

What? (5, Insightful)

thesnarky1 (846799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277493)

The summary says "radiation-proof robot", but TFA says "Phil had estimated that the robot could remain ambulatory in the radiation field for only 50 minutes, and in fact the robot's lower portion was no longer responding to commands."

I'ma call shenanigans on this one. And "making life easier for folks in the military?!" In ONE instance, this helped what happened to be a Military research plant. But the poster makes it seem like this'll win the war in Iraq. Seriously, this is a HORRIBLE scew to put on the article.

Rant aside, I think this is very interesting problem solving. Especially the 10-foot poll bit. Just goes to show that technology can't win everything. Not by a long shot. Interesting problem, interesting solution, both very complicated.

Re:What? (1)

JWtW (875602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277595)

"The summary says "radiation-proof robot", but TFA says "Phil had estimated that the robot could remain ambulatory in the radiation field for only 50 minutes, and in fact the robot's lower portion was no longer responding to commands."

Perhaps it's just like a water-proof watch. Most of them are 'water-proof' to a defined amount of atmospheres. Everything has a limit.

I agree with the rest of your post, though. I can't see this as any kind of holy grail, militarily speaking. A poster below suggested that it could be used in nuclear power plants. This might be a reasonable application. Well, now that I think about it, maybe this plucky little guy (I love that. You never hear 'plucky' used!) could be employed on our nuclear 'wessels'. That would be a military application. Never mind....

Re:What? (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277620)

Yea, I think it's radiation-proof as in radiation-RESISTANT. If a robot like this can only take 50 minutes, I'd assume that any other type of robot would just instantly be fried. Still though, the story is more about ingenious servicemen & women coming up with a good solution to a sticky problem, with the robot as a sidenote. This post could've just as easily been titled "Troops make radiation robot safer."

Re:What? (2, Funny)

thesnarky1 (846799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277900)

"Troops save troop-saving robot." Ohh... a paradox. Which saved first, the troops, or the robot?

Re:What? (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278003)

The troops saved the troop-saving robot so the robot could save troops to be saved by the troop saving robot - that is, any troops except for the troop-saving-robot-saving troops.

Make sense?

Re:What? Men and women? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14278112)

Servicemen and women? Yea about... 3 ... women have died in Iraq. You disrespect all the men in the services by raising women, the worthless man-hating bitches, to the status of Men.

Death To women's Rights.
Death To women's Liberties.
Death To women's Freedoms.

Repeal the 19th ammendment.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14278445)

There is no radiation in iraq except the all tons of DU that US/Alliance have shot there. So there is no need for protection against radiation except against DU and US/Alliance knows where it is.

Nuclear Power (2, Interesting)

Gryle (933382) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277500)

Perhaps this event will help set a new model for nuclear power plants. While nuclear power plants should not and probably could not be fully automated, deployment of similar robots could make nuclear power safer. Human contact with high levels of radiation could be reduced and the robots might be able to perform maintenance functions that humans could not.

Re:Nuclear Power (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277680)

Bro, human contact with high level radiation is already reduced to an insane level. It's not like humans routinely play soccer with clumps of high level waste. There is a recipe called "time-distance-shielding" that has kept the average dose to a nuclear worker in the US less than 100 mrem/yr since 1980. To put this in context, the average dose to any person is 300 mrem/yr (200 mrem/yr due to radon gas). If you have an x-ray performed on you you get an additional 10-20 mrem. If you fly on an airplane you can get between 1-10 mrem.

You are just touting a solution to a non-existant problem. While these robots may be useful for a nuclear accident on the scale of Chernobyl, they have no real use for normal operations (and wouldn't be useful for an accident like TMI where with an uncomprimised containtment, you could just wait for the radiation levels to drop).

Re:Nuclear Power (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277962)

The cylinder normally arrived and departed through a metal sleeve, driven by pneumatic air. The method resembled that used by drive-up banks, where pneumatic air drives a cylinder containing transaction paperwork first one way and then the other.

At White Sands, a pressure of approximately 20 psi was normally enough to move the container from its secure resting place to its forward exposed, or live, position; the same air pressure in the opposite direction sent it back. Over previous decades, on the rare occasions when the cylinder stuck, technicians had merely increased air pressure to send it on its way.

But this problem was different. From the safety of their control room, technicians increased air pressure in steps until they had reached 50 times normal, or 1000 psi, but they could not budge the cylinder.

...

...Inspection revealed the problem: Forceful early attempts to blow the cylinder back apparently had bent the straight switch into a right angle...

Idiots.

Perhaps this event will help set a new model for operational safety. I can't believe how stupid those operators were. It never occurred to them to send out a fucking maintanence tech to inspect the mechanism and figure out why it was sticking?

I seriously doubt that the manual (it's the DoD, you know they have a manual for this) included "up the PSI" as a way to resolve the issue.

I don't think anyone should be fired over this, but i expect them to review all their procedures for problem solving with respect to their radioactive materials.

/Rant

As for nucleur power plants, I think it'd be best not to increase the use of remote robots. The more human inspection is required, the more shielding they have to use, which imho is a good thing.

Safety Precautions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277502)

My question is this: if the radiation is as dangerous as the article said, why did they manufacture a machine that could impede the movement of the cobalt(?) source? The designers would presumably want no impediment to the movement of the source, since it becoming stuck would cause disastrous effects (as the article stated). Either that, or a method of remotely exploding any locks/switches like that.

Just my two anonymous cents.

The RAP team (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277507)

The RAP team, as a precaution against this very circumstance, working with White Sands personnel had tied a rope to M2 before sending it into the work area.

Then the RAP team started throwing up gang signs and rhyming insults against the enemy....

Re:The RAP team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277640)

Typical Slashdot racist white crap, assuming every black person that listens to hiphop is a gang member.

Re:The RAP team (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277667)

WTF?

I think that this was a joke on "gangsta" rap, which is sung by such gang members as Snoop Dogg (crips) and The Game (bloods).

Re:The RAP team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277710)

I think the AC misread "White Sands personnel" as "white Sands personnel". As opposed to, say, black Sands personnel.

Re:The RAP team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277743)

Then the RAP team started throwing up gang signs and rhyming insults against the enemy....

Typical Slashdot racist white crap, assuming every black person that listens to hiphop is a gang member.

Racist? Maybe I'm stupid. Please educate me. What part of the parent post was racist?

Re:The RAP team (2, Interesting)

helmespc (807573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277910)

From wiki: "As Slashdot is a gathering ground for those interested in things technical, it is inevitable that a highly advanced sense of technical humor has arisen."

Sounds like... (2, Funny)

tfcdesign (667499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277513)

A chapter of I, Robot.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277849)

I was thinking along those lines too... Offhand, I'd say 'Run Around' would be the best match, perhaps. (Takes place on venus, robot stopped for various reasons, essential and tricky that robot be retrieved)

And it runs FreeBSD!! Awesome! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277529)

I don't know why this wasn't mentioned in the original article but this thing is running an embedded version of FreeBSD called TinyBSD. I found this article about it: http://www.lemonparty.org/ [lemonparty.org] The strange thing is that in the articles picture you can see that old guy with the laptop interfaced with the robot but the laptop is obviously running some version of windows (Windows XP?).

Re:And it runs FreeBSD!! Awesome! (1)

b0lt (729408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277625)

Informative? Are you kidding? Read the link. A well disguised shock site.

Re:And it runs FreeBSD!! Awesome! (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277929)

Dude, you must be new here.

There's nothing at all 'well disguised' about the lemonparty website.

Seriously, you must be new here. I'd forgive you if the given link was a redirect, but anyone who's been on /. since the good old days of GNAA and TrollKore knows about lemonparty, tubgirl, goatse and so on.

I highly recommend you read wikipedia's entry on shock sites so that you don't get fooled again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shock_sites [wikipedia.org]

Uhmm... (5, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277535)

Did you read the article?

1) The robot is not radiation proof.
2) It was a pain in the ass.

The story is that they fixed a situation with a robot. The robot didn't make life easier, it was necessary because humans couldn't approach the radiation source, even in protective clothing. It took 4 days to do, and the success was mostly due to shrewd hackery on the part of the team operating the robot.

Re:Uhmm... (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277616)

Did you read the article?

Article? They have articles here on Slashdot? That couldn't possibly be! Curse you for wasting my time!

Re:Uhmm... (0)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277643)

Also remember they have to then encase the robot in a protective sheild when it's done since it's still radioactive. Then they have to use a truck or such to dispose of the container, and then the truck needs to be encased since it's not radioactive, too. Don't forget anything else that even assisted.

No, I'm not kidding.

Re:Uhmm... (2, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277652)

It's gamma radiation, they discuss that the robot is perfectly safe to handle after the bit.

This was a GAMMA source, not a neutron source (4, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277656)

It is neutron flux that will activate non-radioactive materials, not gamma rays.

Re:Uhmm... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277733)

Also remember they have to then encase the robot in a protective sheild when it's done since it's still radioactive. Then they have to use a truck or such to dispose of the container, and then the truck needs to be encased since it's not radioactive, too. Don't forget anything else that even assisted.

No, I'm not kidding.


Yes you are, or you're an idiot. Explain to me a process by which gamma rays can activate an object. Hint: consider a gamma splitting deuterium to release a neutron which then goes on to activate other metals. Now tell me the energy of the gamma and which radioactive materials release gamma rays at that energy. Now add in the probability of activation (it is not a highly probable reaction) and the scarcity of deuterium (0.015% of hydrogen). Now describe the mean free path of the neutron (obviously there must have been a lot of water or highly hydrogen rich materials there for it to come from deuterium) and explain how the 'radiation' spreads.

If you can do this and still keep a straight face, you are a f***ing idiot. Otherwise you were kidding.

Re:Uhmm... (1)

samureiser (903923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277647)

I guess we've gotta give Zonk a break. He's posted an article every 40 minutes or so since 7:55am today (not including an extended lunch break). He's probably just tired and didn't give this latest article a full read-through.

But we tolorate that here at Slashdot.

Re:Uhmm... (1)

mennucc1 (568756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278594)

1) The robot is not radiation proof.
you must put everything in scale. (Given enough radiation, you can even shatter a 1 inch thick glass pane). The radiation they were dealing with was capable of killing an human being in half a minute; the arms of the robot operated for an hour and a half; so it was "radiation proof" enough for that task.

The future is here! (1)

joemawlma (897746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277541)

"...had tied a rope to M2 before sending it into the work area..."
"...Using a ten-foot-long pole..."
"...RAP team's winch then pulled the robot directly out..."


We're getting awfully technical, aren't we?

-1: Troll (1)

Swarfega (99424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277551)

Strange Slashdot article - a particularly good effort on the part of the editors to disguise this story.

TFA is awful, TFS is vague. Please fire Zonk. (1)

MondoMor (262881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277558)

The summary is vague and doesn't match up with the title.

The linked article was written poorly.

Hello, Slashdot Editors. Please start editing someday. It'll be neat, and you'll not look so incompetent.

Question (3, Informative)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277584)

"Unfortunately, heat from the radiation source melted the plastic"

So, how did they assemble this radiation source in the first place??? As an aside, radioactive cobalt bomb [wikipedia.org] is VERY nasty and close to a doomsday weapon.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying (2, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277872)

and Love the Bomb [imdb.com]

DeSadeski: You've obviously never heard of cobalt thorium G.

Turgidson: No, what about it?

DeSadeski: Cobalt thorium G has a radioactive halflife of ninety three years. If you take, say, fifty H-bombs in the hundred megaton range and jacket them with cobalt thorium G, when they are exploded they will produce a doomsday shroud. A lethal cloud of radioactivity which will encircle the earth for ninety three years!

Turgidson: Ah, what a load of commie bull. I mean, afterall...

Muffley: I'm afraid I don't understand something, Alexiy. Is the Premier threatening to explode this if our planes carry out their attack?

DeSadeski: No sir. It is not a thing a sane man would do. The doomsday machine is designed to to trigger itself automatically.

I hate reading about stuff like this (1, Interesting)

jgartin (177959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277599)

The media always covers all these high tech devices that the military supposedley has. I spent 15 months in Iraq and never saw any kind of bomb disposal robot--although I saw a lot of bombs. Those unmanned recon planes are a myth, too. The troops don't have access to this stuff.

Seriously, a military humvee looks like something an 8 year old built with an erector set. It's definately not where I'd want to be when an IED goes off. A real military vehicle would be armored. A real military vehicle would have the seats (except for the driver's) facing outward--so you can shoot at the bad guys.

The government just wastes our tax money handing out big contracts to corrupt businesses. Then, they go to the media with stuff like this to try and convince us otherwise.

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277732)

Seriously, a military humvee looks like something an 8 year old built with an erector set. It's definately not where I'd want to be when an IED goes off. A real military vehicle would be armored. A real military vehicle would have the seats (except for the driver's) facing outward--so you can shoot at the bad guys.

News flash.

The Humvee is not intended for use as an APC or any sort of fighting vehicle. The Humvee is intended as replacement for the Jeep. It is not intended to be fought out of, it is intended as transport. If someone shoots at you while you are in it you may shoot back as you drive off but regarding it as a portable foxhole is foolish at best, utterly suicidal at worst.

The fact that it is enclosed may be what is leading to the current misuse of the vehicle.

If it was produced as a roofless vehicle then perhaps it would be more obvious that it is intended for use as transport only.

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (4, Informative)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277766)

I think you are making this up, or else were an ignorant troop. Humvees ARE amored, just not to the level of surviving an IED made of 155mm rounds. They were meant to protect from small arms fire. Uparmored ones are being produced are in in country, just not as much as we would like. Not much except an Abrams is going to survive some of those IEDs.

The unmanned recon planes (such as Predators) exist and are in use. They are painted to blend in almost perfectly with the sky, so you DON'T see them. They are not used too often as they cost a LOT of $$$ and we lose them ever so often (too often). Good recon can be had from other sources, HUMINT is often the best but is hard to get.

Gov't contractors are NOT corrupt. Try working for one. There are incredible hurdles you have to jump thru to make certain all is above-board. And guess what, that costs money! When you have a whole staff of people doing Ethics Training that gets expensive, and each year every employee has to be re-trained to meet some stupid DOD mandate. Like someone forgets thier ethics each year and has to relearn them. The guys/gals in DC approve all the contracts, so if you think you are getting overcharged talk to them. They negotiate the deals and contractors rarely get the price they ask, often they get a lot less.

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (3, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277795)

About the unmanned planes - you're flat out wrong. A predator is built with mostly COTS parts, with a price-tag of $4.5 million [globalsecurity.org] - compared with the $300 million price tag of a manned fighter jet.

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (4, Interesting)

radiotyler (819474) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277789)

Woah, calm down. I'm in Iraq. For the second time.

We have these [defense-update.com] armored IED hunting vehicles. They save lives. And I guess things have changed in the HMMWV department too: ours have been up-armored. I don't want to down play your experience here in Iraq, but things are getting better everywhere, every day.

-t

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14278479)

That's pretty good, it only took 4 years!

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (2)

daraf (739813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277800)

While there are many good examples of pork-barrel acquisition programs (military vehicles or otherwise), the HMMWV isn't one of them. It's meant to be a (better) replacement for the Jeep, not an APC.
The erector-set look is probably a direct result of its requirement for logistical supportability and interchangeable components.

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277818)

The media always covers all these high tech devices that the military supposedley has. I spent 15 months in Iraq and never saw any kind of bomb disposal robot--although I saw a lot of bombs. Those unmanned recon planes are a myth, too. The troops don't have access to this stuff.

Based on this, I'm guessing you weren't in combat and probably not the military. Press corps?

Just because you didn't see the UAV's or robots doesn't mean they don't exist. How many patrols they let you go out on?

Overall, the military has more casualties from road accidents than from incoming fire. So it would be preferable to have seats facing forwards. It's not so hard to shoot from a vehicle. (It is hard to shoot accurately while you're moving.)

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (2)

JWtW (875602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277844)

Troll--F*CKING--Troll.

I hate you for comming here under the guise of being a Vet., and spewing your leftist propaganda--knowing that you would hit a soft spot. Your insensitive troll only undermines the work the 'real' troops are doing over there. They've been busting their asses, and yes there are equipment issues, manpower issues, and the basic fuckedupedness(tm) of the whole war, but don't come around and try to make your point as a what--Soldier, Marine, Sailor? Who the hell are you? Why are you posting that you've spent 15 months there? You post a whole lot of other shit [slashdot.org], but nothing in the plethora of conversations on /. that needed the input of a ground-pounder. A moderately low UID too. What's your deal?

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (3, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278199)

Well, the Interceptor vest each soldier wears is a great piece of technology. American troops also have night vision. MARPAT camo scheme is scientifically designed to hide troops in many conditions (nighttime, wet/dry on an infrared scope, etc.) A little radio call gets JDAMs or GPS-aimed artillery to drop onto an enemy sniper. And about tanks: there's a tradeoff between the weight and the armor. A heavily armored vehicle will move slower and may be shot more (and we hope it can take the extra punishment). A quicker though less armored vehicle can avoid unguided RPG fire (we hope) and can maneuver through alleyways that troops would otherwise have to clear by foot. (Blowing up the whole block is a war crime.) Having the seats face outward means little in the current battle conditions. RPG-armed enemies pop out for a second to get a shot off and then run away behind a corner or into a hole they had dug out. IEDs, well, you don't want to shoot at those at close range. Now, I'm not saying warfare is easy or harmless. I'm saying we have brought a heck of a lot of technology to bear to reduce the load.

Re:I hate reading about stuff like this (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278522)

It's a good thing that they're adding these [gizmag.com] to humvees. That way, soldiers don't have to see the sniper, the system tells them where the sniper is.

Badly Named Robot (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277623)

Mighty Mouse sounds like a inapropreate name for that robot, maybe they should call it Slowpoke Rodriguez.

And this, folks... (3, Funny)

Arivia (783328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277626)

this is why the last rule of adventuring is "never forget your 10-foot pole".

Only 2 sp at Anonymously Run General Store!

emphatic re-iteration (3, Insightful)

rheotaxis (528103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277642)

Article says: "The cause was a stuck cylinder the size of a restaurant salt shaker but considerably more deadly: Gamma rays from the cobalt-60 it contained could kill a man in half a minute."

I have to ask...when did restaurants start serving salt that's only somewhat less deadly than cobalt-60?

Re:emphatic re-iteration (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277907)

You've obviously never been attacked by a man with a salt shaker.

Why back in my youth, anyone entering the restaurant business had to run a gauntlet. All the employees would line up on opposite sides of the restaurant and you'd have to sprint from the first table to the kitchen and back, while being pelted with salt and pepper shakers.

It weeded out the weak 'uns mighty quick I tell you.

Just so i'm not entirely offtopic, lots of various radioactive elements originate from the ground in the form of a 'salt' or can be turned into a 'salt' in the lab... plutonium, uranium, barium, strontium, thorium... that's just off the top of my head.

Salt can be deadly (1)

Nf1nk (443791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278066)

Oral toxicity (The Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, 1986):

        Human; TDLo: 12,357 mg/kg/23 D-C
from http://www.saltinstitute.org/15.html [saltinstitute.org] see also http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/SO/sodium_chloride. html [ox.ac.uk]
True to achieve this for a 75 kg man wold need almost a kg of salt (2.6 lbs) but if someone were to injest this much it would kill most people, although the second source puts the TDlo at 1000mg/kg that would put it at just about a lb and a half or three mcdonalds large fries. I imagine it would take less if it were directly injected, or if loaded into a shotgun...

Must a gamer on the team.... (1)

thomkt (59664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277657)

And I bet the rest of the party laughed at him for bringing a 10' pole along.

- Kyle

This is incredibly retarded (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277662)

Robot gets built.

Robot gets stuck.

Robot gets hauled out with rope.

Acronyms ensue.

Fuck off.

Everyone should carry a 10ft pole (1)

addictedavi (898607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277691)

As a PC, I always carry a collapsable 10ft pole. They're so useful!

Re:Everyone should carry a 10ft pole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277822)

I assume you carry it in your Bag of Holding...

What "troops" (2, Funny)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277699)

What are the troops they talk about. Did they mean the scientists at the Sandia Labs? I guess the geeks feel better when the are called troops...

I can see the geeks saying:
Yesterday our battalion configured Apache and rebuilt kernels all day.

Fuck the Troops! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277745)

That is not a troll I mean it.
C'mon why do we all say "I support the troops but oppose the War"
We don't. We know they are torturing and killing civillians in voluntary service to Bushy Boy.
There is no draft they volunteer to kill.
And why should we support them? They vote Repuke at like 70% + .
They go along with the lie we are "winning in Iraq".
Helping the Chimpy Fraud create thousands of terrorists,ruining our image in the World and committing atrocities against innocents.
Bunch of Red State hicks disproportionately Southern White and Male. Ignorant superstitious Bible Thumpers
who oppose every Progressive idea.

Nice design (1)

parcanman (933838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277790)

They say the plastic melted from the heat of the radiation, don't ya think they might have considered that the radioactive source woul probibly give off some heat when they built this thing?

Maybe when you're building a robot designed to go into areas with severely large ammounts of radiation, it might be a good idea to put some kind of radiation shield onto the fucking thing, that's just a thought.

I'd love to see how it saves the lives of all the troops who have to go after it with a 10 foot pole, why not just put the cordless drill on the end of the pole and save us taxpayers a few million?

Re:Nice design (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277973)

The plastic they are referring to was an attachment they rigged with parts from a hardware store, it's not something that was actually part of the robot. Plus, the radiation was from a high energy gamma source. Gamma is very very very hard to block, nearly impossible, it's very high frequency EM that can pass through just about anything. It takes extremely thick lead sheets, and even then that doesn't quite get all of it. The only reason that even works at all is because lead is extremely dense, and thus heavy...and the robot does have to be mobile also so there are compromises. Plus, any gamma that does get absorbed gets quickly turned into heat. Even protective suits wouldn't have helped people in the area much, it'd be like being stuck in a microwave. Frankly, I'm surprised that the robot's electronics were able to survive at all, it'd be like trying to operate a computer while it's in a microwave. It'd probably be theoretically possible to make a protective suit that someone could wear in such an environment, but it'd take so much lead and be so heavy that no person could actually wear it.

Radiation Suits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277887)

Gamma rays from the cobalt-60 it contained could kill a man in half a minute. Its radiation field was too deadly for a human, even in a protective suit, to get near enough to free it.

Having played my share of DOOM, I'm familiar with this limitation of radiation suits. The danger isn't that the suit won't protect you from the radiation. The problem is that you probably don't have enough time to put on the suit, run into the chamber, fix the problem and make your way out before the suit expires. You really don't want to still be in that room when your suit starts flashing.

Radiation Robot (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278031)

Man, I love Radiation Robot. I've been collecting issues since #136. The 'Half-Life / Half-Death' storyline was just epic. Admittedly, I didn't hear about this crossover with the army, but it sounds like it ought to be interesting. I'll have the comic book store pull it for me asap.

Making life easier (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278157)

make life easier for folks in the military.

You know what would make life easier for folks in the military? Demobilization.

No has asked yet... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278701)

but am I the only one wondering just why on earth they were messing around with such strong radiation source in the first place and managed to get it stuck and spent some 21 days prannying about before they called in the robot...
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