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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Who Wins? Humans or Robots?

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, December 15, 2013/Categories: space science, adventure

Those 'mad scientists' at DARPA are at it again. They have launched a Robotics Challenge . NASA will enter their new Valkyrie 1 robot.

According to the research agency, the mid-December robot trials will:

"provide a baseline on the current state of robotics and determine which teams will continue on to the finals in 2014 with continued DARPA funding. Competing in the 2014 Finals will lead to one team winning a $2 million prize."

Two million dollars is a nice 'chunk of change'. The winner
will help chart a course for using robots in more applications ranging for the military, businesses, and space exploration. The Johnson Space Center has shown off their competition entry, the Valkyrie. The six foot humanoid robot can walk over diverse landscapes, climb ladders, use tools, and drive.

Human Engineer and Robot Explorer  (credit: Johnson Space Center)

Biological forms like humans require food, water, and air not to mention benign temperatures. Robots are not bothered by such matters. They would be excellent explorers of exotic places like the canyons on Mars, Europa's just discovered ice volcanoes, and Titan's methane seas.

Artist Conception of Europa Geysers and Radar Maps of Titan Seas  (credits: JPL)

I'm not an engineer but I'm a big fan of robots to do important work that humans can't do themselves. Extreme environmental challenges expected at faraway moons like Europa or Titan would be best explored by robots directed by humans on Earth. DARPA is showing the way towards such new explorers.


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