A while back DARPA issued a challenge to researchers and educational institutions to help construct a robot that could meet a series of specific tasks. The competition had a prize of $2 million and was called the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The goal of the challenge was to have entrants build robots that have four limbs and possessed strength along the lines of a human.
One caveat for the program was that the robot had to have the dexterity needed to be able to climb ladders and use tools. Carnegie Mellon University is one of the educational institutions that participated in the challenge. The robot created by the University is called the CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform or CHIMP.
The robot has an interesting motivation system using triple-jointed limbs that are able to move on tank treads over roads and rough ground. The robot is also able to lift itself up and travel using two of the tracks while using claw-like manipulator arms to climb ladders, move debris, or turn a steering wheel. DARPA is seeking robots it would be able to enter facilities during serious accidents, such as the accident that occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Robots that enter the competition also have to be able to operate without a power line or a wired connection. CHIMP uses onboard processing power for balance, collision avoidance, and navigation. The design was accepted by DARPA into the top group of Robotics Challenge entries. The first round of tests for this group of robots, including the CHIMP will begin in June. The first challenges are purely based on software. Physical task challenges will happen in December.
[via The Register]