If you took all the money that James Cameron’s 2009 smash hit Avatar raked in, you’d have the amount of money that has been set aside for the 2013 budget, which include a mission to turn the premise of that film into a real-life military project. It’s even called the Avatar project. Believe it or not, the Pentagon believes it will only cost $7 million to implement. By comparison, Cameron’s movie reportedly cost more than $235 million.
The specifics of the program are actually quite similar to the sci-fi technology that was used in the 3D motion picture. In fact, it’s so similar it’s kind of creepy. “The Avatar program will develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate,” the agency explained. This comes from the Pentagon division known as Darpa, which handles high-concept research initiatives.
According to the literature on the Avatar project, it seems the android counterparts would mainly be used for purposes like ensuring the safety of rooms or outdoor terrain, and recovering combat casulaties, rather than participating in the actual combat. That will be left up to real-life soldiers. But the idea of controlling an avatar in the same way that Cameron’s flick so masterfully demonstrated is nothing short of incredibly awesome. How soon before it becomes as ubiquitous as owning a dog? That’s what we’re waiting for.