Computational creativity and the future of AI

DARPA

An ATRIAS bipedal bot can recover from a swift, sudden kick (Photo: Oregon State Universit...

The great tradition of designing robots inspired by the many beautiful forms of locomotion seen in the animal kingdom likely predates robotics itself, arguably stretching all the way back to Michelangelo's time. Standing on the shoulders of such giants is ATRIAS, a series of human-sized bipedal robots that remind us of other two-legged creatures like the ostrich or emu.  Read More

DARPA's Communicating with Computers (CwC) program is aimed at improving human/machine com...

DARPA’s new initiative, known as the Communicating with Computers (CwC) program, aims to improve the ability of machines to communicate effectively with their human counterparts. The agency has two initial experiments planned, focusing on the somewhat differing fields of improved conversational skills and better cancer detection.  Read More

Prototype telescopic contact lenses may one day help sufferers of age-related macular dege...

Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed contact lenses that have tiny telescopic lenses built in to boost vision. Controlled by smart glasses that react in response to the winking of an eye, the device allows the wearer to zoom in on objects by providing magnification up to 2.8 times that of unaided human eyesight.  Read More

The Squad X Core Technologies program is intended to give infantry squads a tactical edge ...

While ground vehicles, aircraft and ships have benefitted from numerous technological innovations over the years, not nearly as much has changed for foot soldiers. DARPA’s Squad X Core Technologies (SXCT) program, for which the agency is now seeking proposals, aims to tackle this by providing infantry squads with digitized, integrated technologies that improve their awareness, precision and influence.  Read More

The ALASA concept uses an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft to launch...

If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch 100-lb (45-kg) satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft.  Read More

The redesigned Atlas robot has an on-board lithium-ion battery (Image: DARPA)

Like a teenager going off to college, DARPA's Atlas robot has cut the tether and is walking on its own without a safety line. The centerpiece of this year's DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), the upgraded Atlas robot was unveiled to the competing teams in Waltham, Massachusetts last week during a technical shakeout.  Read More

The Snake Monster robot is claimed to be the precursor to a range of robots intended to be...

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has created a new robot that has six legs, looks creepily like a spider when it walks, and is dubbed "Snake Monster". Not exactly endearing traits, but the Snake Monster isn’t designed to win any popularity contests. It has been created as an easily reconfigurable platform using a modular system architecture that may be easily programmed to govern robots with a varied array of configurations.  Read More

RoboSiman and Surrogate (Photo: JPL)

Bigger may be better, but better isn't always better. In October, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California unveiled a new and improved version of its RoboSimian robot. Called Surrogate, it has many advantages over its predecessor, but it's RoboSimian that is going to next year's DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals.  Read More

DARPA is seeking a UAV that can operate in debris-strewn close quarters (Image: DARPA)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are the eyes in the skies for soldiers and disaster relief crews, but despite over a century of aviation progress, they still leave a lot to be desired and close quarters are very difficult for them to navigate on their own. To make UAVs more practical in debris-strewn areas, DARPA's Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program aims to develop algorithms that will allow autonomous fliers to negotiate obstacles as easily as a bird of prey.  Read More

Large military aircraft, such as the C-130 transport pictured above, could be converted to...

DARPA has submitted a request for information on how to turn existing military aircraft into "aircraft carriers of the sky." Ideally, the successful response would allow large manned aircraft to launch and recover multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), whilst requiring only minimal cost-effective adaptations to existing aircraft.  Read More

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