Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center said the new class of robot under development is for a technology challenge sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The Carnegie Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform has four legs and would move like a tank for effective movement over debris or rough terrain. When appropriate, CHIMP could move on the threads of two legs, leaving the others to perform other tasks, such as operating tools.
The DARPA challenge is for robots with human-like capabilities to respond to disasters. CHIMP's path and actions will be supervised by a human operator. Tasks such as using tools and steering a vehicle will be accomplished by the robot through its pre-programmed software.
"Humans provide high-level control, while the robot provides low-level reflexes and self-protective behaviors," said NREC Director Tony Stentz. "This enables CHIMP to be highly capable without the complexity associated with a fully autonomous robot."
Each extremity of CHIMP has a manipulator for grasping objects, the university said, and on-board sensors build a mapped, 3-D model of the environment the CHIMP is in.