What do astronauts on a mission to Mars and earthbound paraplegics have in common? Quite a bit, including the news that NASA is developing a robotic exoskeleton for both of them. Called the X1 Robotic Exoskeleton, it’s derived in part from NASA’s Robonaut 2 humanoid robot now undergoing trials aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The X1 uses robotic technology for a dual-use exoskeleton that has applications for both astronauts on long space missions and the walking impaired on Earth.
The goal of DARPA's multi-year Robotics Challenge is to develop robots capable of reducing the danger of rescue and relief to victims and first responders alike. Next month DARPA will pit rescue robots against a series of tasks that represent disaster scenarios.
Telepresence robots are already making their way into space
and operating rooms
and onto the battlefield
, but Jeremy Robbins, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, wants to get telepresence robots (or telebots) on the mean streets to combat crime. He’s enlisted the help of researchers at Florida International University (FIU) to develop telerobotics systems that would let disabled law enforcement officers get back onto the beat using robots originally conceived for military applications.
Fast as the FastRunner may become, it will never be able to escape the comparison to an ostrich. One day, thanks to a joint effort by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), this bipedal sprinting robot is going to assume its rightful place in the DARPA-funded robotic zoo, right next to the robotic cheetah
and the mule-like BigDog
. Thanks to an innovative, self-stabilizing leg design, the movements of this flightless robotic bird are going to be not only very efficient, but also extremely fast. The legs are already capable of hitting 27 mph (43.4 km/h), matching the fastest of humans. The researchers hope to see FastRunner reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80.4 km/h). That, plus the ability to negotiate fairly rough, uneven terrain, potentially makes it a force to be reckoned with, on the battlefield and elsewhere.