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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

DARPA unveils new robotics program

Early investments in mobile manipulators, or robots, have led to a family of ground platforms now used in military operations for many missions, including countering improvised explosive devices. Although these robots save lives and help reduce casualties, they have limitations. Most require significant human interaction, which increases the time required to complete tasks. Robot performance under human remote control is limited by video fields of view, perspective and communications bandwidth.

DARPA's latest effort, the Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program, envisions robots with a high degree of autonomy requiring only high-level supervision by an operator. This simplifies human control and could drastically improve execution of tasks. If successful, these future robots could perform multiple military missions. The goal of the four-year ARM program is to develop software and hardware that enables a robot to autonomously grasp and manipulate to perform complicated tasks with a human providing only high-level direction.

Three research teams are participating in the hardware track of this program: iRobot, Sandia National Laboratories and SRI International are developing designs for a new multi-finger hand with an emphasis on robust design and low cost. Six teams working in the software track will develop software that enables the robot to perform several tasks. Software researchers include Carnegie Mellon University, HRL Laboratories, iRobot, NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SRI International and University of Southern California.
(Source: DARPAPublicAffairsOffice Aug 2010)

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