There's a high-tech
Olympics of sorts under way in Florida this weekend.
It is a robot versus robot competition. The idea is to develop a new generation of machines that both save lives of people in trouble and minimize risk to first responders.
At this Pentagon-sponsored
competition, 17 teams of scientists and engineers are testing robots -- to go
where man cannot go.
Gil Pratt is a program manager at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA.
"We work with first responders to find out what kinds of tasks they would really like a robot to be able to do at a distance from them," Pratt said.
This event featuring real robots is one of the phases of DARPA's robotics challenge, an initiative that began as a response to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, nearly three years ago.
"What if we had a robot that could go in there, working at a distance from the human being, and do more than just observe the situation?" Pratt asked.
here are not at that stage. Controlled by their human operators, they perform
various challenges -- driving a car, closing a valve, and walking over a
simulated rubble field.
Tony Stentz is the director of the National Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Stentz and his team designed and built "CHIMP" for this competition at a cost of $3.5 million.
"I could see machines like this operating in underground mines where there is a risk of fire, explosion or collapse, so there are a number of potential applications," Stentz said.
The finals will be held next December. The winning team will be awarded a $2 million prize, and a chance to turn science fiction into science fact.