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October 25, 2012

New Military Robot Completes Obstacle Course, Has No Plans to Compete on Wipeout

In the eternal battle between human beings and machines, each side has particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to certain tasks. Robots, for example, are pretty good at exploring ocean depths and performing repetitive mechanical tasks. Humans, on the other hand, are pretty good at telling jokes, writing articles about robots, and participating in wacky game shows like Minute to Win It and Wipeout. But now, thanks to innovations by the U.S. military, robots may soon surpass us in that final frontier. The obstacle course robot is now here.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been working on an initiative to develop a robot that can navigate around obstacles, as a person might move over and around tables, chairs and other debris that might be strewn about. The military agency hopes to see robots that can climb ladders, navigate rubble in a disaster area, and perform other tasks that might make these ‘bots suited for fighting fires or fixing failed nuclear reactors.

To this end, the agency has created an incentive program to get builders interested in creating robots to perform these tasks. In an effort to kick off the competition, it released a video that shows a prototype robot stumbling around an obstacle course that might be tricky for most sober humans. The robot looks a little shaky and unsteady in places, but it gets the job done. Now all it has to do is wait for a call from the folks at ABC, and it’ll be jumping on those big red Wipeout balls in no time!

Watch the full video below:

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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