Video: DARPA Demos Its ARM Robot

Ever wondered what it would look like if a robot grabbed you by the face?



Ever wondered what it would look like if a robot grabbed you by the face?

On Monday we brought you an extensive video montage showing the most impressive robots we saw on the show floor of the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), in St. Paul, Minn., last week. After seeing that video, many of you wrote in to ask for more footage of the DARPA ARM robot (the one that pried the camera from our weak human hands and spun it in the air). No problem!

In the video above, Patrick Rowe from RE2, the Pittsburgh firm hired by DARPA to build the robot, which apparently is called "Robbie," describes its main components and capabilities. Later this year, a copy of the robot will be sent to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and RE2 is developing games and tasks for visitors to interact with the robot. The challenge is to give visitors as much control of the robot as possible without allowing them to, er, destroy it.

The DARPA ARM program, which seeks to revolutionize robot manipulation, is coming to its final phase, in which the remaining teams will face some tough challenges, including changing a tire of a small car. It remains to be seen whether the program will fulfill its goal of significantly advancing robotic manipulation (whose progress has been glacially slow), but one thing's for sure: You don't want to get your face too close to Robbie.

Image and video: Erico Guizzo & Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

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