Leaps forward in simulation technology and cloud computing are making it possible for challengers from around the world to compete for support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create robots that can help people during natural and other kinds of disasters.
During a recent media roundtable, Dr. Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager, and Dr. Brian Gerkey, chief executive officer for the Open Source Robotics Foundation, told reporters about the ongoing DARPA Robotics Challenge, which launched in October 2012 and will end after the final event in December 2014.
The Open Source Robotics Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization in Mountain View, Calif., founded by members of the global robotics community to support open-source software development and distribution for robotics research, education and product development.
“DARPA is focused on the defense mission for DOD,” Pratt said.
“Our primary reason for [creating the robotics challenge] is about the security of our citizens in situations of natural and manmade disasters. [But] the technology DARPA develops often finds its way into all sorts of other parts of life.”
The Internet is the best example, he observed, adding, “I expect that the robots we develop will be used very soon, at least in some form, … within people’s homes,” possibly as helpers for aging populations in nations like the United States and Japan.