Not all robots are built for war and destruction. In fact, at this year's DARPA Robotics Challenge, professor Katie Byl and her team from the UC Santa Barbara Robotics Lab showed off RoboSimian -- a multi-limbed, ape-like robot built for rescue missions.
Unlike its bipedal and humanoid robot competitors who found themselves falling over like drunk robots, RoboSimian used its four limbs to give it both balance and strength.
"When you think about what you would want in a rescue scenario, it's things like stability," Byl said in this video from Tested. "So RoboSimian is designed with four limbs and strength. This is a robot that's really designed to do pull ups; to clamor around on a jungle gym, as opposed to being a little more delicate and human like in form."
RoboSimian's four legs aren't just for walking and climbing. Its limbs can also hold tools for complex tasks. RoboSimian can even drive a vehicle. Robot road trip, anyone?
However, since the robot has three sets of elbows, it has to unfurl its limbs when taking a large step forward. So RoboSimian won't be breaking any speed records as it moves across the terrain.
"The robot moves slowly and deliberately, but unlike some of the other robots if something is in the way, it can push it right out of the way because of its strength," Byl said.
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Most of us think of robots either working alongside humans in their homes, or possibly in a military or space mission. But don't expect RoboSimian to walk your dog, shoot at the enemy or collect Mars soil samples. For Byl and her team, RoboSimian is built for rescue operations.
Whereas many of the robotics teams built robots specifically that could master the obstacle course and various tasks for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, "We designed this robot thinking what's really useful in a rescue scenario," Byl said.
Before you get nervous about RoboSimian breaking free and becoming a real-life Ultron, this impressive robot is still very much controlled by humans. It is not autonomous and does not use artificial intelligence. Human operators give the RoboSimian instructions and the robot uses that information to help it accomplish the task at hand.
Here's hoping we get to see RoboSimian in action soon rescuing humans, and not just climbing stairs and driving around town.