Feeds

NASA buys cutting-edge Cornish robot

To be dubbed Oooh-Arrr-2-D2, no doubt

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Disgruntled Yank moans "Why not give the job to Disney" - feels force of West Country engineer's bitchslap

Jackson says that NASA came to Cornwall because someone from the space agency saw RoboThespian at a conference in the US and liked the look of it. The export triumph by Cornwall's cutting-edge robotic crowdpleaser industry has led to some sour grapes Stateside. Ex-NASA employee Keith Cowing, nowadays an inveterate critic of the huge, bloated agency, writes:

At a time when NASA is off developing a real (and much, much cooler) robot that will work in space (Robonaut) why not try and use something that resembles actual NASA robots to do education and public outreach? RoboThespian is manufactured overseas in the UK (Cornwall). Quite frankly, at a cost of between $54,000 to $119,000 wouldn't you think that KSC could find an American company that offers something that will fit the bill? Indeed, Disney World is an hour west of KSC in Orlando and they have lots of animatronic robots - indeed, it's their specialty.

Indeed, indeed. But Jackson is having none of it, administering a stinging bitchslap to the cross-pond carping curmudgeon. He tells the Reg:

This is a bit stupid as there is really no such thing as a US product or a UK product... Our robots use valves from Japan and Germany, motors from Switzerland and chips from the USA, Austria and China. The alloy is most likely from Australia and we have used software developers in Germany and France as well as the UK.

I guess the carping stems from some sense of entitlement to being the world's tech leader, but really it's just a simple misunderstanding of what it takes to integrate a modern hi-tech product - if you stripped the 'foreign' components out of the shuttle it wouldn't fly too well - not to mention the taking the I out of ISS.

From an industry 'protectionist' view point the best way to ensure your industry lags behind and is over-priced is to exclude the competition.

So there. And anyway, according to Jackson, "a 'bespoke' option would cost at least 10x the price... there are very few full size humanoid robots in the world and near none that you can buy off the shelf - except RoboThespian".

Some Americans at least might see this as a rare case of NASA actually giving the US taxpayers' wallets a rest and getting the job done at a low price, rather than its usual policy of buying from huge US corporations with entrenched politically protected workforces and paying prices to match. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.