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February 14, 2016

DARPA Humanoid Robot Plan Going Too Well, Apparently

Team ViGIR's humanoid robot entry for DARPA. (via @darpa on Twitter)

Team ViGIR’s humanoid robot entry for DARPA. (via @darpa on Twitter, July 23)

Apparently the DARPA competition to build a humanoid robot is going so swimmingly that the Defense Department’s advanced research wing is pushing back the schedule — not the usual reason for a missed deadline at the Pentagon.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s DARPA Robotic Challenge is focused on humanoid robots that could assist in disaster missions. Bryant Jordan helpfully writes, “If there is also a weaponized version a la The Terminator anywhere in the plan the Pentagon has not said so.”

Because some of the teams vetted so far are exceeding expectations, according to the agency, they’re giving them an extra six months during which DARPA will “raise the bar.” They’re also throwing another $1.5 million each at the firms.

“Goals for the upcoming competition include robots that are more robust, have better stability and more advanced autonomy,” per program manager Gil Pratt in National Defense Magazine.

One of the robots from the challenge was actually so successful it was pulled from the competition and will be developed commercially. Google also had all the money it needed, anyway. There’s already a humanoid robot who can run more than 5 mph, pour drinks, hop on one leg and do sign language. Go ASIMO! (Or maybe that should that be: “Go ASIMO?”)

There does not appear to be much of a focus in the DARPA challenge on bridging the “uncanny valley,” however. Humanoid robots are just the weirdest. Just try not to be creeped out by the video below, as entertainingly written up by Neda Semnani.


Comments (22)

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    Cannot wait to work within this field once I graduate, if “they” don’t take all the jobs first!

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