DARPA's creepy Proto-Pet project is just the beginning. On the 24th of October, the agency launched the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The goal of the competition is to pit roboticists from the US and the world against each other in order to develop hardware and software for bipedal robots that can handle typical human environments.
I look forward to seeing what come of this challenge. I think we will see an advancement is search & rescue type bots. The work could use them. Think Fukushima level disasters.
Given a few more years of development and we will be putting fully autonomous capability into heavily armed machines that have no notion of ethics, and which (who?) will be the perfect sociopaths, able to kill without a moment's thought or care. We are halfway there with the drones overflying Iraq and Afghanastan today. In a few years, those drones will be capable of picking and executing their own targets (if they can't already), and you won't need the radio control pilot anymore. Then the fun really begins.
Isaac Asimov invented his three laws of robotics not only because it made for good stories, but also because he understood that humans will use any new technology to whatever degree it is capable of being used as a weapon. Autonomous robots are no different. I doubt it will ever be possible to build empathy or anything like the "3 laws" into a robot, as someone will always find a way to crack the code. But it IS possible to pass regulations and international treaties to limit what degree of autonomy we will build into these machines, and to what degree they will be designed to be able to use human weapons. Since the US has been the most aggressive by far in the use of unmanned weapon development and deployment, I think it is up to us to put some brakes on this train while we still can.
Or we can just stay on the path we are on, and ride the train right off the edge of the cliff.
Very cool and with todays tehnology more than possible to acheive.
If a group of people with similar interest but different strenghts pull together a few DIY'ers could make one, or even a single person with some Mechanical and programming know how could make one.
"AIXML" "PHP"(or server side language you choose) "MySql"(or SQL) would be a good place to start for the brains, the actuall processing can be done using a micr-controller like the "Arduino" or any spinn off of it.
The machanics would be up to you, and any additional features like adding wireless control or voice recognition would be reliant on the software and electronic compnents, for Arduino "Sheilds" can be purchased.
Just a Note:
The Arduino-Mega 2560 has 52 I/O's, and substancial memory so having multiple servos and sensors to control the machine (Robot). From what I've seen small computer systems not much larger (if at all) than the Arduino-Mega with about the processing speed of an old 328 with 500gb RAM for about $100.
The amount of coordination between mechanical, electrical and software systems in this robot is amazing. I did not realize how advanced biped robots are becoming and how well-developed their ability is to navigate around such difficult obstacles.
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