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Two Robots, One Challenge, Endless Possibility

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Two robots created by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

RoboSimian (left) and Surrogate are robots designed and built at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. RoboSimian will compete in the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals.

Credit: JPL-Caltech

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is developing robots that can enter dangerous places.

JPL's Brett Kennedy says such robots could undertake simple actions to curb further damage.

A robot called RoboSimian was originally created by JPL researchers for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge, and the team won a spot to compete in the finals, which will be held in June 2015.

The RoboSimian team is working with the University of California, Santa Barbara and the California Institute of Technology to increase how fast the robot can walk. During the DARPA challenge, the robot must drive a vehicle and get out of it, deal with debris blocking a doorway, cut a hole in a wall, open a valve, and cross a field containing hurdles such as cinder blocks.

JPL researchers have used the limbs from RoboSimian to form another robot called Surrogate, which was designed to be more human-like and with a specialty for handling objects. However, Surrogate currently is limited to moving on tracks and has only one set of stereo-vision eyes, or a pair of cameras mounted to its head, whereas RoboSimian has up to seven sets of eyes.

From Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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