Next-Generation Robot A Terminator In The Making
DARPA, your friendly neighborhood designer of humankind-threatening machines, has revealed its newest baby. At 6-foot-2 and 330 pounds, ATLAS is one of the most fearsome humanoid robots, even though it’s only a skeleton.
As part of DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC), which is kind of like the robo version of American Idol, the robot is only a testbed for teams of engineers that will have to design software to control its brain. In other words, we should all pray that none of the participating geeks have a penchant for world domination.
In the meantime, the harbinger of death has a functional, real-time control system, 28 joints, stereo sensors and the standard human parts: two arms, two legs, one torso, and a head. The competing teams will use these available parts to design software that will turn ATLAS into a top-notch search-and-rescue worker… or the Terminator.
ATLAS, its creators claim, will be saving lives, but we couldn’t help but fear that the robot will one day dominate all of humanity. Slate backs us up, saying the ATLAS already “looks like the Terminator.”
You can read more about the DARPA Robotics Challenge here and see some of the contestants’ previous efforts in the video below.
May their work be used for good and not evil—or, failing that, may it continue to be pretty much useless in the real world for the foreseeable future.
On top of all this, now first responders and firefighters will have to worry about something far more sinister than a robot apocalypse: losing their jobs to a bunch of tin cans.
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