Prepare to witness a tantalizing glimpse at our future robot overlords.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency yesterday released a stunning video showing how an autonomous robot can navigate and jump over obstacles with great ease.
In the clip, the Pet-Proto robot -- a predecessor to DARPA's Atlas robot -- traverses a simulated hallway containing a very tall step and a thin walkway. Pet-Proto easily uses its strong arms to balance itself as it climbs a step, then perfectly leaps down with a thud. The highly agile walker stretches its legs to continue its journey along the thin edges of a gutted hallway floor. … Read more
The people have spoken and the machines are immortalized.
More than 17,000 humans voted online for the 2012 inductees to the Robot Hall of Fame, and they chose a mixture of friendly and terrifying bots, depending on your perspective.
Come on down, Wall-E, BigDog, Nao, and PackBot. You've earned a place among the stars.
In 2011, more than 80 firefighters in the U.S. died while on duty, and more than 60 have lost their lives so far this year. Engineering companies have been trying to reduce the harm they face and Maine-based Howe and Howe Technologies is offering this robot firefighter as a solution.
The firm is known for building high-speed tracked vehicles that can tear through rugged terrain. Thermite, billed as the world's first production firebot, also rolls on treads so it can get over obstacles lying between it and a dangerous fire. … Read more
Let the human-hunting games begin. Boston Dynamics has a new video of its oversized beast pursuing defenseless human meatsacks through a forest.
The Legged Squad Support System (LS3), aka AlphaDog, is designed to carry 400 pounds of payload and travel 20 miles without refueling. It's funded by DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps and is meant to support troops in rugged terrain.
The latest video shows the cow-size monster clambering over rocks and up steep hillsides with heavy weights on its sides. It charges through bushes without a thought. … Read more
Run, don't walk, if you want to get away from this cheetah robot. If you happen to be non-human, you might stand a chance of surviving.
That's because Boston Dynamics' quadruped has set a new speed record and can now outrun the world's fastest human, Usain Bolt.
The DARPA-funded cyber-cat, already the fastest legged robot around, can sprint 28.3 mph, better than Bolt's best 20-meter split of 27.78 mph, the company said, quoting data from the International Association of Athletics Federations. The robot can now run significantly faster than its former top speed of 18 mph because engineers increased its power and refined the leg control algorithms. … Read more
If robots could run for president, which would you vote for?
Nobody doubts that machines would make better leaders than meatsack politicians, but there are so many to choose from. Carnegie Mellon University is helping out by letting us humans elect inductees for its Robot Hall of Fame.
The prestige has been awarded to real robots such as Honda's Asimo, as well as characters like C-3P0 and R2-D2 from "Star Wars." The unprecedented public participation in choosing the members follows years of inactivity at the hall, which was created in 2003 but last added new robots in 2008. … Read more
In addition to slithering, crawling, and flying just about anywhere, what if robots could camouflage themselves? This tentacled prototype can be made to look like -- or stand out from -- its background with a simple injection of dyes.
Developed by engineers at Harvard University's Whitesides Research Group, the "soft machine" silicone quadruped crawls along on pressurized gases fed through an umbilical cord.
Users can send different dyes through channels in the robot's body, allowing it to blend in or stand out in startling fashion, such as glowing in the dark. Color changes take about 30 seconds, but don't require further power to sustain the disguise. … Read more
When the going gets tough, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency creates a vehicle -- capable of driving on water, land, and even deep mud -- to keep things going.
Officially known as the captive air amphibious transporter (CAAT), this water wagon currently under development looks like the strange lovechild of a tank and a hovercraft. CAAT could one day serve as an invaluable tool for the U.S. military when it delivers supplies to the coasts of disaster-stricken areas. … Read more
From snakes to fish to cheetahs, we've seen a veritable Noah's Ark of biomimetic robots in recent years, and now researchers have turned to the lowly earthworm for inspiration.
Meshworm is a squishy, sluglike droid that stretches and squeezes its artificial muscles to move forward. This peristalsis is similar to how worms travel and how your guts move food around. … Read more