DARPA seeks humanoid robots in Grand Challenge

Will Petman compete in the Grand Challenge?

(Credit:
Boston Dynamics)

Humanoid-robot soldiers may be getting closer to reality with DARPA’s next Grand Challenge, which apparently will involve getting a robot to pull off some pretty impressive handyman skills.

According to robotics Web site Hizook, DARPA’s Gill Pratt recently outlined the challenge, which calls for humanoids to be used in industrial disasters and rough terrain.

The ultimate object is to build a robot that can work in a human environment and use human tools. The industrial setting is no surprise in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis, in which various robots from the U.S. have lent a helping hand (or manipulator).

DARPA will apparently fund 6 hardware and 12 software teams for the challenge. The object is to get a robot, preferably a bipedal one, to drive a utility vehicle such as a tractor to a locked room; dismount and unlock a door with a key; enter the room; and cross a debris-strewn floor.

It will then have to climb a ladder, locate a leaking pipe, shut a valve, and replace a faulty pump.

It has to do all that semi-autonomously, with operators only supervising its acti… [Read more]

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