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Will the Headless Ape Robot Win the DARPA Challenge? 37

New submitter pausz42 writes "The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Stanford University are promoting RoboSimian, a simian-inspired robot able to face environments which are hostile for men. In the DARPA Robotics Challenge the selected teams have to develop an autonomous robot able to get into a car, drive it to a disaster site and perform hazardous activities. While this prototype is the only one that that doesn't have a humanoid shape (and it's quite creepy, since it does not have a head), it seems that its three fingered limbs are better fitted for some of the difficult tasks required by the DARPA challenge."
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Will the Headless Ape Robot Win the DARPA Challenge?

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  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @04:01AM (#44662651) Journal

    "able to face environments which are hostile for men."

    So, like a room full of feminists?

    • by jovius ( 974690 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @05:44AM (#44662813)

      More like a room full of mirrors.

    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      "able to face environments which are hostile for men."

      So, like a room full of feminists?

      Since it is headless, would a shark's head help?

  • No neck != headless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @04:41AM (#44662723)

    Just paint a smiley on it :)

    IEEE video was underwhelming at first but then it quickly got extremely impressive: that's a very nice design they've got there, way more than is at first apparent. Only thing lacking is bouncing, jumping, and speed and it would fully live up to it's name.

    However the hand fingers need both individual base individual centre axis rotation as well as individual common centre axis rotation, the shown offset 2-1 grasp is good for some things, but an axially symmetric 1-1-1 is good for other things like picking up small objects like nuts (the metal kind) or small stones, and a linear 1-1-1 is good for picking up bars and tubes without chasing them all over the place (the human hand does this differently and imperfectly).

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @04:56AM (#44662743)

    So perhaps Homer Simpson might actually be well suited for working at, say, Fukashima?

  • I presume someone is planning offensive capabilities to get the fuunding?

    Vik :v)

    • Don't hate on DARPA. However much you might dislike the USA or it's military, DARPA does a bunch of cool stuff. Quite a bit of which has nothing to do with weapons.

      In this case they want a robot that can go into areas with biological, chemical, or nuclear hazards and preform as well as a Human can. The Fukishima nuclear incident (or disaster if you prefer) showed why current robots suck. Imagine if one of these things was able to activate a pressure release valve. Even with some radioactive release, th

    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      I presume someone is planning offensive capabilities to get the fuunding?

      Vik :v)

      Yeah, Cyberdyne.

  • Anyone else notice its called Clyde in the illustration at the end of the video clip? :)
  • should be: "able to face environments that are hostile to men"

    Also, the summary doesn't explain why they don't just send women to environments that are hostile to men.

    Don't make me do this again, Slashdot editors.

  • Hey! We don't serve ttheir kind in HERE!!
    in my lifetime, but...

    • Sadly, some here are old enough to have heard such words. Sadder still, there may yet be some places where they still may be heard.
  • This robot comes from Planet Clair. A place with pink air, all the trees are red, and no one ever dies. Ah, because they were all robots! Not it makes sense.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:11PM (#44664611) Homepage

    The competition [theroboticschallenge.org] is in December 2013, and this team may not be ready by then. Here are the other robots being entered. [ieee.org]

    The simulated challenge back in June revealed that the entrants' movement control software isn't very good yet. The winning team's simulated robot fell down 12 times. [theroboticschallenge.org] DARPA has posted only heavily censored videos [theroboticschallenge.org] of the results, possibly because they're so embarrassingly bad.

    Some of the blame attaches to the simulator used. The Gazebo simulator's physics engine, which is borrowed from video games, is not good enough for the job. Video game simulators use tricks that look OK, but aren't physically realistic. That's no good when you're using them to match a real robot, or even if you're doing control based on reported forces from the simulator. This should be fixed in early 2014 when they get an honest physics engine from Mike Sherman, who knows what he's doing. (If you need a accurate humanoid robot simulator right now, try OpenHRP3 [openrtp.jp], from AIST in Japan.)

    I suspect that the December 2013 event, which will be public, will be rather disappointing. But the planned 2014 event may be very impressive.

    That's how it went with 2004 DARPA Grand Challenge for automatic driving, which was so pathetic it was covered by the Comedy Channel. Then in 2005, all the robot vehicles at the event could drive autonomously without running into anything and several finished the whole course with good times. The second day of the 2005 Grand Challenge was the moment when automatic driving became real to the world.

  • Years ago my Dad oddly started referring to cordless phones as "headless phones" causing waves of shock and horror within our family. It is my hope that the ripples extend outward until they break across all cultures and languages, culminating in a universal oddity that science cannot explain.

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.