Nothing New Under The Robotic Sun
A couple days ago we posted about Mr. Tentacle's Hexateuthis robot, and questioned the feasibility of equipping it with a ring of sensors. Thanks to Kevin, a regular reader of Robots Dreams, we found out that the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is already light-years ahead of us.
It turns out that the JPL LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robots) designs are equipped with a stereo camera system that moves on a circular track that rings the robots body. This allows the robot omni-directional stereo vision in the plane of the body, and, of course, the cameras can be tilted by using the robots legs.
According to the JPL website: "The technologies developed on this platform will be used to build an advanced system that will climb slopes up to and including vertical faces and overhangs while reacting to forces to maintain stability and do useful work (e.g., sample acquisition/instrument placement)."
And we learned that the JPL staff also has a good sense of humor and loves puns when they wrote: "The current Lemur IIa platform represents the jumping-off point toward two more-advanced robotic platforms that will support NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, which calls for a sustained presence in space."