FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Pentagon's Robot Road Race

In a continuing drive to roboticize the US military, Congress has mandated the Pentagon to make one-third of its ground forces robotic within 10 years. There's obvious urgency in such an initiative; aside from being able to protect troops and save lives, robots may be a partial solution to the military's recent recruitment difficulties.

Trouble is, Washington's android ambitions are ahead of the available technology. To help stimulate grass-roots innovation in the area, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) holds an annual contest among robot builders called the Grand Challenge. Simply put, it's a road race for robots covering 150 miles of rugged desert terrain, with a $2 million purse at stake. Earlier this month, 40 semifinalist teams were selected, ranging from corporations to universities to a high school. The actual race will be held in the fall.

In 2004, no robot was able to complete more than 7.4 miles of the Grand Challenge course.

Source: AIKnowledge