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Be The Change Herald


Volume 64 – January 31, 2014


Welcome to Anousheh's Be The Change Herald! Feel free to forward to others who might want to register for the newsletter and you can unsubscribe at any time.


More on Robotics!

To continue on the theme from the December newsletter, let us open this year's Be The Change Herald with a few more news on robotics.

Today, there are about 110.000,000 active landmines spread around in different places, and every year tens of thousands of people are killed or horribly injured by them. Fortunately, the University of Coimbra in Portugal is trying to do something about it.

By adding sensors for navigation and localization (GPS, stereo vision, and a laser), as well as a two-degrees-of-freedom arm equipped with a metal detector and a ground penetrating radar system, The University of Coimbra has turned a Clearpath Robotics Husky into an autonomous mobile mine detector. This is of course a great step in the right direction in mine detection without loss of life and injury. The next step could be smart robots to deactivate those mines.

For more information, please visit: http://news.discovery.com/tech/robotics/robot-detects-landmines-from-far-far-away-140123.htm

While we have heard of drones in the context of intelligence gathering, war and delivery, their application to protect endangered animals might be new for many readers. Recently the California-based company Airware, which specializes in autopilots for unmanned aircraft systems, has started collaborating with the ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in an attempt to protect their wild life. They have already tested a new drone, and are hoping that their drone would be able to survey the protected area as well as dispatch security forces at the first sign of any poachers. Last year, 1004 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa compared to 668 of the previous year.

To read more, please visit: http://news.discovery.com/tech/robotics/drones-deployed-to-protect-endangered-animals-140122.htm

A group in the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University have built a robo-ankle for long-term rehabilitation of muscles in neuromuscular disorders like cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis as well as short-term rehabilitation in case of injury.

The device is a standard knee strap, ankle brace and shoe that has been robotized with the addition of pneumatic artificial muscles, small sensors and advanced control software which imitates the lower leg's muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is designed to move the muscles through particular exercise movements while the patient is sitting. To see a video of the robo-ankle, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbXRiTbuDvY

To read more, please visit: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24922-roboankle-uses-artificial-muscles-to-get-you-walking.html#.UuqsxPtvWZ2< br />

Barefoot College

Widely known as the Barefoot College, the Social Work and Research Centre, was established in 1972 in India by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills which they could use to transform their villages, regardless of age, gender or caste. According to Roy, his approach, inspired by Gandhi's teachings, works by "capitalizing on the resources already present in the villages".

While there is no gender discrimination in their teaching, the college has been very influential in changing villages through changing the women's lives. Since 2004, the Barefoot College, has trained about 250 illiterate and semi-literate women from rural, impoverished villages without electricity in 41 countries to be solar engineers. After six months of training, these women have provided more than 15,500 houses with solar electricity in their home countries. As important, is the sense of dignity bestowed on the Barefoot College graduates and their respective villages through their self-reliance.

After reading many articles and viewing many websites, the best way to know about the Barefoot College and appreciate its work, seems to be the powerful TED Talk by Bunker Roy about the barefoot movement.

To learn more about this movement or to get involved, please visit:

To see videos of their work, please see:

Self-Reliance in Space

Each spacecraft, crewed or robotic, encounters an extraordinary spectrum of vast resources throughout its journey. From the first space missions onward, space architects and scientists have considered incorporating these space resources into their designs to improve efficiency and guarantee the survival of hardware and people in space. This practice of harnessing resources at the exploration site is called "in-situ resource utilization", or ISRU.

As we embark on deep-space missions with weeks- or months- long travel times, ISRU becomes increasingly important because resupply missions are expensive and exclusively relying on them may put crews at risk.

NASA is planning to launch a mission to the moon in 2018 to space-test ISRU. The mission will include a rover which would scout for hydrogen, drill out samples, and scan for water vapor.

The second ISRU experiment will be launched aboard the next Mars rover in 2020. This test will attempt to filter out different particles from the planet's atmosphere and process the gas to obtain oxygen. If these missions are successful, the future of space exploration will change dramatically.

To learn more, please visit:  

My Dream of Stars

My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer: a book by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam.

In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream.  To learn more about the book, please visit:  http://www.anoushehansari.com/book/

To find a book signing, please check the upcoming appearances section of this newsletter.

To obtain a copy please visit:



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:


"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better.It's not.-The Lorax"

-Dr. Seuss