Meet Schaft, this year's winner of the Darpa Robotics Challenge. All the robots entered were set goals based on real-world scenarios in dangerous situations, such as fires, and were awarded points for completing tasks, with additional more points for less human involvement. Challenges included opening doors, connecting fire hoses and driving cars.
Sixteen teams entered and completed eight challenges before Schaft - built by a Tokyo University team who are now private and owned by Google - came out the winner. Interesting, as Google now also own Boston Dynamics, which builds robots based on human and animal movements, showing the Big G's step towards a robotic future. The Google employees were probably shown I, Robot recently and saw it as a challenge rather than a warning.
Talking of robot fear, doesn't Schaft remind you of ED-209 from Robocop? Just replace those wide sloped arms with some chunky machine guns and that's one fear-inspiring winning bot you've got there. Another man who feels this fear is Mark Gubrud of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control.
He told Gizmodo: "Clearly there's interest in robot soldiers. That's clearly the long-term goal here, as well as robots to do other dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs. I think there's an intuitive sense of horror at it, that it's an offence to human dignity for a human being to be killed on the decision of a machine. It is a human responsibility to maintain control of the use of force."
But since this challenge is all about saving humans in dangerous situations his words didn't scare many. Plus all eight of the top finishing teams should receive $1 million in funding - ready for next year's even more agile robots.