Broadcast 371 (Special Edition)

07 Aug 2005 Dr. William "Red" Whittaker
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Dr. Red Whittaker was the guest for this special Sunday evening Space Show program. When listening to this program, Space Show listeners are urged to check out these related websites: www.frc.ri.cmu.edu, www.redteamracing.org, and www.workhorsetech.com. Dr. Whittaker began the interview with a discussion of the state of the art for robotics for space exploration, then for other robotic uses including farming, mining, earthwork, cleanup including situations such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and more. We talked about how well suited robots are for lunar exploration, especially going into craters and researching ice at the lunar poles. Several listeners asked Dr. Whittaker about the best academic path for pursuing a career in robotics, including the best path and the most likely profile for women entering college and wanting to specialize in the work discussed by Dr. Whittaker. As Dr. Whittaker is again entering this year's DARPA Grand Challenge (see www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/), he talked about the contest to have the robots cross the desert completely on their own. Dr. Whittaker not only explained the basics of the challenge, but also the time trials, the contestants, the simulations his team has used to perfect their design and entry, and the lessons learned from last year which they have applied to this year. He talked at length about the passion and fun in doing this work, making it clear that the only way to really lose is not to play, not to engage in the Grand Challenge and this type of work. We also discussed the state of robotics around the world, ITAR considerations, and many other related subjects and applications for advanced robots. Dr. Whittaker explained the importance not only of the technological advances being made in robotics and the speed at which advances are happening, but also the changes going on within our culture over the years which make the use of the robots acceptable to us. As robots are being used for more and more space applications as well as for applications here on Earth, we are coming to understand their importance and the contributions they make for our humanity. We also need to understand the lines that distinguish what is best suited for a robot and what is best suited for manned space exploration and development. Listening to Dr. Red Whittaker discuss this subject and his work certainly advances our knowlege and understanding of this subject. Its a discussion you will not want to miss. Dr. Whittaker can be reached by e-mail through the contact information provided on either of the three websites listed early in this e-mail. In addition, he can be contacted through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.

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