An Israeli team led by researchers from Ben-Gurion University was invited this week to participate in a US-sponsored project to develop control software for the next generation of “rescue” robots, designed to deal with disasters.
Robots can go places where man dare not, into disaster zones, both natural and man-made. Governments, universities, and corporations around the world are putting significant resources in developing robots to deal with the aftermath of floods, mining collapses, oil spills, nuclear accidents, and other industrial and natural disasters.
The Robotics Challenge program is sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military.
The Israeli team, Robil, is one of eleven that will develop software for the GFE Platform being developed by Boston Dynamics, Inc., based on its Atlas humanoid robot platform and modified to meet the needs of the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The team, the only non-American group invited to participate, was awarded $375,000 to develop the software over the next nine months.
The program was initiated in the wake of some of those modern disasters — including the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima power plant, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Chilean Copiapó mine collapse.
In all those instances, robots were able to accomplish what humans could not, entering danger zones to render assistance. While the robots in those instances acted well, they could have done so much more, said DARPA — and with the help of the Israeli group and 10 other teams, the software to improve and enhance robot performance will soon be available, the US organization said.
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Via Times of Israel
Photo by BGU