Robots are starting to enter into our homes, classrooms and offices in order to streamline our lives further – which is not necessarily a bad thing at all, but they are still far from being the kind of robots that what we see in the movie, “I, Robot”, are capable of. Still, this latest development that concerns robots hail from the the labs of a University of California, which will enable robots to see through walls – and this X-ray vision of sorts is made possible thanks to the clever use and manipulation of Wi-Fi signals.

In order for this particular technique to work successfully, however, the machines are required to work in pairs, where one of them will broadcast wireless transmissions with the other that has been positioned on the opposite end measuring these transmissions. Taking into consideration the fact that both objects and walls would greatly reduce signal strength, the receiver is then able to tell the difference between empty and occupied spaces, resulting in a relatively accurate map of the area.

Of course, this development does not automatically make them the first robots to be able to
see through walls, and no doubt that they will be the last, but at least it relies on Wi-Fi instead of a slew of sensors which might prove to be costlier in the long run. Future applications would include assisting in search and rescue operations, as well as being able to figure out just how many people are living in a building, or to assist in archaeological digs. [Press Release]

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