It’s that time of the year again. The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. The flowers are blooming.
See robot. See robot run. (Graphic illustration provided by DARPA)
Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about the DARPA Robotics Challenge. It’s back! What, did you think I was going to say summer? Puh-lease.
*inhales* Ah, I can practically smell the innovation in the air.
In case you didn’t read my post about this last year, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is kind of a big deal. It’s the chance for organizations and innovators around the world to show what they’re made of. Or rather, what they can make a robot out of, if you will.
I guess something you might be asking yourself is, why do we need robots? I think the question you should really be asking is, why wouldn’t we?
Simply put, humans are flawed. We’re limited. We’re fragile. We’re susceptible to illness, we can be emotionally compromised, we’re easily damaged. Our national security is vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters and there are often limitations to what humans can accomplish to help remedy these situations or mitigate further damage.
Today’s robotics are helping, but they are not yet robust enough to function in all environments and perform the basic tasks needed to mitigate a crisis situation.
Written by Jessica L. Tozer
Hey you, robot enthusiast!
Do you want two million dollars? Can you build amazing robots? If so, have we got the most awesome contest FOR YOU! No, seriously. This isn’t the premise for a 1980′s SciFi action flick. This is for real, folks.
Hey, haven't I seen you in a video game somewhere? (Artist's concept image courtesy of DARPA)
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is offering millions to the person who creates a robot designed to handle disasters of epic proportion. The kind humans can’t handle, no matter how noble or determined we are. No, not the asteriod-hurling-to-Earth type (although truthfully that would currently fall into the things-we-can’t-handle-no-seriously-Bruce-Willis-isn’t-going-to-save-us category).
All epic movie montages aside, DARPA really is looking for robots that can handle things that are too dangerous for humans, like the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant last year.
This is more than just the work of a machine. This robot has to go above and beyond the call of autonomous duty in order to handle the kind of crisis we’re talking about. As awesome as that sounds, it’s not quite as unprecedented as you might think.
The truth is, the use of robots in serious situations is nothing new.