Meet DARPA’s new generation of humanoid robots | Aeon Essays
New humanoid robots will compete in a contest designed to test the ability of machines to take on extremely dangerous and high-stakes human. Meet DARPA's Humanoid Robot That Could Someday Save You From A Crumbling Building #BostonDynamics #Robotics. The invasion has already begun: the only question is when, not if, humanoid robots will work, play and war beside us.
Intelligent Machines Meet Atlas, the Robot Designed to Save the Day New humanoid robots will compete in a contest designed to test the ability of machines to take on extremely dangerous and high-stakes human jobs. July 12, Improved rescue robots could save lives in emergency environments too dangerous for people. The latest innovation from the U. In fact, Atlas is designed to eventually take on some of the most dangerous and high-stakes jobs imaginable, such as tending to a nuclear reactor during a meltdown, shutting off a deep-water oil spill, or helping to put out a raging wildfire.
Meet ATLAS, DARPA’s Latest Humanoid Robot
And if Atlas proves itself at such daredevil tasks, then one of its descendants might one day be allowed to do something just as important: Atlas was unveiled on Thursday at Boston Dynamicsa company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that has already developed an impressive menagerie of robotic beasts, some with funding from the Department of Defense, including a headless robot pack mule called LS3a gecko-like, wall-climbing bot called RiSEand a four-legged machine called Cheetah capable of bounding along at 29 miles per hour.
Like these other machines, Atlas has incredible capabilities for a legged machine.
The six-foot-tall, pound robot has 28 degrees of freedom enabled by powerful hydraulically driven joints that allow it to not only carry heavy objects but adjust with remarkable speed to loss of balance. And it has two pairs of slightly different robotic hands. The robot currently requires a tether that feeds it cooling water and high-voltage power, but the goal is to develop an untethered version in Videos showed prototypes walking over uneven ground and inching along narrow ledges in simulations.
A version of Atlas without its arms walks on a treadmill at Boston Dynamics.
Pratt conceived this initial DRC event as the first in a series. So besides calibrating ourselves to what the state of the art is, I think a lot of the good that we can do here is to calibrate the public.
Though not an actual competitor, Boston Dynamics was instrumental in the success of the DRC, having created the machine used by seven of the 16 teams in the competition. The idea was to create a mechanised version of the elephants used by Viet Cong soldiers in the Vietnam War.
Fifty years on, however, technology has caught up with imagination. Boston Dynamics have, in fact, created what amounts to a mechanical horse, in the form of the LS3. They can go in very difficult terrain. People and animals using their legs can go almost anywhere on Earth. And yet, wheeled and tracked things are very limited in the number of places they can go.
So the dream is to be able to get animal-like mobility out of these machines by giving them the same techniques as the animals use. The machine then trotted off for a jog on a track at the speedway.
Meet ATLAS, DARPA’s Latest Humanoid Robot | IDGA
As dexterous as it is, the LS3 is still a long way from the supervised autonomy that Pratt wants the DRC robots to demonstrate. Although the machine can keep itself upright and even follow a human walking in front of it, it still needs an operator nearby to guide it along. It also has even further to go before it can match the smarts and dexterity of an actual animal, Raibert told me. DARPA programme managers have succeeded in crossing this chasm too many times to count since the agency was founded in Not a single driverless vehicle was able to finish the first Grand Challenge inwhich was pretty much a straight sprint across open desert.
But the next race, just a year later, had five finishers. And by the time of the third and final race, inthe competing cars were successfully navigating simulated city streets along with human-driven traffic.
Pratt, Walker, Prabhakar and all the teams competing in the DRC can see the way forward for autonomous humanoid robots as clearly as the Lidar light, detection and ranging -produced point clouds their machines use to build up a picture of their surroundings.
Where the other bots were slow and hesitant, this machine seemed purposeful, even confident.
It easily navigated the collection of cinder blocks placed haphazardly across its path. In the ladder challenge, it charged up two steps at a time, reaching the top well within the time limit. And win it did. The team was a private company spin-off from Tokyo University. It was only fitting that the winner of the DRC comes from Japan — the site of the crisis that sparked the competition.
No doubt about it, Google, one of the most successfully innovative companies on the planet, is betting big on robotics. Like it our not, it seems only a matter of time before general-purpose, semi-autonomous humanoid robots become just another part of our technological landscape, right along with two other Google-funded innovations: Disaster zones represent just one area in which general-purpose robots designed to work in human-created environments will likely make themselves useful.
The home is another. The number of people over the age of 65 in industrial nations is rising faster than the number of people available to help them with tasks with which they will increasingly need a hand. The number of Americans over 65, for example, will hit In Japan, whose ageing population is growing faster than any other in history, a quarter of the total population will be 65 or older byaccording to the Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
The DRC programme manager Gill Pratt looks at those trends and sees robots — robots helping people in their homes just as dishwashers and vacuum cleaners do now. Nor does Pratt want to limit DRC-style bots, whose prototypes are relatively expensive, to big, high-profile disasters such as Fukushima. He foresees a day when large production runs will make them affordable enough for fire departments around the world.
In that scenario, they would be just another tool available to first responders along with fire trucks and defibrillators. Very likely, C3PO and Terminator are equally destined to be part of our future. The robots of the DRC will be back on the field as early as this December, most likely much, much more capable than before, after their teams have a further year to work on improving the hardware and software that drives them.
The eight best teams from the DRC Trials are in line for DARPA funding to help them along, but many of the others, including the all-volunteer team Mojavaton, will continue on their own dime, undaunted.
But more than that, the competition promises to launch yet another DARPA project from the realm of science fiction into the mainstream by once again proving the seemingly impossible to be, in fact, possible. The repercussions will be profound — our squeamishness about autonomous machines notwithstanding.
From there — if the road taken by driverless cars is any indication — humanoid robots will be just a few years of development by companies such as Google away from much greater autonomy. Such machines will be able to independently perceive and navigate the world around them while interpreting and responding as they see fit to high-level commands from human operators.Meet Pepper, the Friendly Humanoid Robot