Robots are used in emergency response, industry, defense, healthcare and education but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency aims to push robot development beyond current capabilities.
"The work of the global robotics community brought us to this point -- robots do save lives, do increase efficiencies and do lead us to consider new capabilities," said Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager. "What we need to do now is move beyond the state of the art.
"This challenge is going to test supervised autonomy in perception and decision-making, mounted and dismounted mobility, dexterity, strength and endurance in an environment designed for human use but degraded due to a disaster.
"The key to successfully completing this challenge requires adaptable robots with the ability to use available human tools, from hand tools to vehicles," he said.
DARPA's Robotics Challenge, which has both robotics hardware and software development tasks, starts in October and teams are being sought to compete.