DARPA accelerates combat robot research with cash prize

A Pentagon-financed humanoid robot named Atlas made its first public appearance on Thursday. Some see Atlas’s unveiling as a giant step toward the long-anticipated age of humanoid robots. “A new species, Robo sapiens, are emerging,”   http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/science/modest-debut-of-atlas-may-foreshadow-age-of-robo-sapiens.html?pagewanted=1&hp  The robot is equipped with both laser and stereo vision systems, as well as dexterous hands. The debut of Atlas on Thursday was a striking example of how computers are beginning to grow legs and move around in the physical world. The robot, which has a brawny chest with a computer and is lit by bright blue LEDs, would learn quickly and would soon have the talents that are closer to those of a 2-year-old.
Robotic planes already fill the air and self-driving cars are being tested on public roads. The robot, which has a brawny chest with a computer and is lit by bright blue LEDs, would learn quickly and would soon have the talents that are closer to those of a 2-year-old.
Although experimental robots have been on the scene at least as far back as the Japanese Wabot-1 in 1973, researchers said that the field was now evolving rapidly. This month, Honda’s Asimo robot began a stint as museum guide in Tokyo.
Six of them will be given to companies that are being asked to program them for a competition next year, with a $2 million prize to the company that programs the robot most able to perform an elaborate rescue mission.
Six Atlas robots of them will be given to companies that are being asked to program them for a competition next year, with a $2 million prize to the company that programs the robot most able to perform an elaborate mission.
The contest involves programming the robot so that it is able to climb into a vehicle, drive to a destination, get out of the vehicle, cross a rubble field, open a door, use a power tool and turn a valve.
The robots will be linked to a remote host computer and guided by human operators. To add realism to the competition, the Pentagon research agency (DARPA) will vary the data speed available to the robots during the competition.
As a result, the systems that are more autonomous will have a significant advantage because they will be able to complete tasks while they are not under direct human control.
The Pentagon’s advanced research agency is hoping that within a year enough progress will have been made to have the robots complete a set of tasks.
“What the prior DARPA challenges did is that, by injecting all of these resources and by having a strong and visible competition, they really pushed the field over that hump, and now people know that it can be done,”

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