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back to article DARPA boffins seek Terminator-style disaster-zone rescue robot

The Pentagon's brash boffinry bureau DARPA is offering millions in research funding to any robot-builders who can come up with a machine capable of dealing with disasters like nuclear meltdowns and tsunamis. Robots breaking down walls and fixing leaky pipes Robots breaking down walls and fixing leaky pipes. Credit: DARPA The …

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jai
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Terminator

There's no fate but what we make for ourselves

I, for one, etc etc

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g e
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Black Helicopters

And $100M

If it comes with Frikkin' Lasers !

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Anonymous Coward

Why build a robot?

Grow a batch of disposable human zombie clones. If they can't be allowed to be autonomous, make them certified brain-dead and remotely operated - although that's much trickier.

More doable with today's technology, you just need to solve the ethical issues.

Failing that, build RoboCop.

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HMB

Re: Why build a robot?

Robocop had a human brain, pretty useless in a high radiation environment.

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Bronze badge

'Dumb' robots

I guess for this all you'd really need is a remote-control observation / manipulation tool - possibly something like an exo-skeleton without the endo-person; the intelligence can be supplied by the relevant engineers.

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HMB

Re: 'Dumb' robots

I think this is a far more achievable task. I think DARPA have gone a bit crazy with the requirements on this challenge.

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They don't ask for much, DARPA, do they.

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Stop

Teminator?

Gerry Anderson got there first.

Where's International Rescue when you need it?

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WTF?

$34m to build a robot

capable of all that, with today's tech? You might get a dishwashing routine added to your RealDoll for that price!

Add another zero to that figure and we'll talk.

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Black Helicopters

Re: $34m to build a robot

Actually, they already provide miniatures of these in Japan for... less than a grand!

http://robosavvy.com/site/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robo_One

The videos of these on youtube are great. Scale it up and you could go into danger zones and rescue people maybe?

(Black Helicopter icon, because the rise of the robots came and went. We were too busy watching tele to notice.)

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Ru
Meh

Human shaped robots are the least practical idea ever

Seriously. Compare the amount of time and effort that has gone into something like Asimo and the current results of that project, with non-humanoid designs like Bigdog.

Also, I'd go as far as saying that general purpose robots are probably a daft idea too, given that they'll be a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive than two robots that only manage half as much. A winning combination would be something that can drive a car, and a big stompy wall-smashing thing to carry it the rest of the time.

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Re: Human shaped robots are the least practical idea ever

Why build a robot to drive a car? Why not build the robot *as* the car, or better yet, a tractor unit that can attach to different modules to transport, deliver and perhaps even operate them? Or that could act as a hub from which smaller, more dedicated robots can operate?

Why limit a design to something that may not be the most practical or useful for a given situation?

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Re: Human shaped robots are the least practical idea ever

The benefit of Humanoid robots is that systems that are currently designed for humans don't need to be modified to support a robot.

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Happy

Re: Human shaped robots are the least practical idea ever

" .., a tractor unit that can attach to different modules to transport, deliver and perhaps even operate them?"

We're back to International Rescue again. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

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Ru

Re: "Why build a robot to drive a car?"

Cos its in the competion spec. It does have a slightly greater degree of versatility than a big wheeled tractor, especially when it comes to moving or positioning unwieldy vehicles or driving in inconvenient spaces. Doesn't need to be humanoid though.

And yes, a human robot would already be well adapted to spaces and systems designed for human use. Nonetheless, something with tracks that can climb stairs and a poker that can push buttons and a chainsaw that can deal with less tractable obstacles will be able to get most of the places a human can, and could be built by any competent engineering team. The android, conversely, requires massive amount of engineering skill in both construction and control software and the resulting costs will be hugely higher.

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Paris Hilton

They are going about this the wrong way

Look - it's been proven time and time again that it's porn that drives technological development, not the military.

They simply need to find porn applications to those same requirements, and development money will come flooding in to the tune of billions of dollars. Autonomous radiation-proof Real-Doll / Fembots that can blast through concrete with their Bulgarian Breast Cannons would make trillions in the porn market, but could save many lives in rescue applications, and let's not forget the obvious military uses.

I should probably submit this as a proposal...

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Stop

Re: They are going about this the wrong way

I'm sure this concept has already been seen in one of the Austin Powers movies (Goldmember?)

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This post has been deleted by its author

Orv
Pint

Re: They are going about this the wrong way

Keep in mind that DARPA sponsoring something is generally a sure sign that it will never actually work. But hey, if you get funded you can play with some nice toys at government expense. ;)

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WTF?

Why humanoid?

Simply because it has to navigate spaces designed for humans doesn't mean it should be humanoid. As long as it can negotiate steps, some sort of fancy track will probably work as well as legs for smoothish surfaces + steps, and be a lot simpler, PLUS it will work very well on uneven surfaces where humanoid feet would be extremely unstable. Also, in the case of disasters, a lot of the space will be different after the disaster anyway.

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Silver badge

" emergency situations don't usually come with good WiFi."

Anybody who could afford to stock and deliver a robot with the capabilities of this thing could easily afford to also deliver a super-duper, encrypted, noise busting radio comms system along with it.

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HMB

Re: " emergency situations don't usually come with good WiFi."

This is for use cases where strict regulatory issues over spectrum use take precedence over stopping nuclear meltdowns. :P

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Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein, your time has come.

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Joke

Hollywood and a game from your past has already thought of the best solution!

http://youtu.be/l7oadchZMYA

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$34m (£21.4)

I see the pound's doing well against the dollar.

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Anonymous Coward

Probably a silly question but..

Have they considered using a nuclear power source for the rescue bot?

Not that it needs much shielding as its likely to be used in high radiation environments anyway.

If you use radiation hard circuitry based on memristor neural networks and/or superconducting interconnects then the 'bot should be able to work just fine in post Armageddon levels.

Make the musculature out of mimetic polyalloy with embedded iron nanosilicate particles that moves like ferrofluid and it hardens on command for those "what the fsck" moments when the 'bot gets hit by large blunt objects like falling walls etc.

Simplez.

AC/DC 6EQUJ5 and no i am NOT working for Skynet, honest :-)

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Mushroom

POWERRRR!!!

Disclaimer: I am not Jeremy Clarkson, despite this comment's title.

The biggest problem to solve with this robot is the power source: tethered to an external power source is impractical, an onboard fossil fuel engine may not work in the target environment and may even be dangerous, onboard batteries won't be up to the job... solve the power problem and the rest is just mechanics.

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M7S
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Terminator

It's a trap

They're going to start turning up suspiciously early at "accidents".

Then you'll be sorry

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