Project starts on robot improvements

March 21, 2011 at 6:39 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has started a program to improve the mobility and manipulations capability of military robots.

The Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program seeks to create and demonstrate significant scientific and engineering advances in the two areas and significantly improve robot capabilities through new approaches to engineering better design tools, fabrication methods and control algorithms.

DARPA said the M3 program has four parallel tracks:

Track 1, Design tools: To develop tools that enable prototypes to be built with predicted mobility and manipulation performance, DARPA has contracted with Carnegie Mellon University, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of California Santa Cruz, Raytheon and Vecna Technologies.

Track 2, Fabrication methodologies. To develop printing and self-assembly processes that require substantially less time and expense to assemble robot components than present methods, DARPA has contracted with Cornell, Harvard and Tufts universities and University of California, Berkeley.

Track 3, Control methods: To develop and demonstrate intermediate-level controls for mobility and manipulation, including environment-based dynamic gait selection, dynamic gait and body mass modulation and dynamic stability control, DARPA has contracted Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve Universities, Georgia Tech Research Institute, iRobot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tekrona and University of California at Santa Barbara.

Track 4, Technology demonstration prototypes: To design and construct technology prototype robots and subsystems to spur innovation in the above areas, DARPA has contracted with Boston Dynamics, Carnegie Mellon University, HRL, iRobot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Other Lab and the University of Florida's Institute of Human and Machine Cognition.

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