The demonstration of the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot is the culmination of more than a decade's work, led by researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Half the size of a paperclip, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, the robot was inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly, 120 times per second. To read more about this work, visit: http://hvrd.me/150Pq0y.
The PETMAN robot was developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from the DoD CBD program. It is used to test the performance of protective clothing designed for hazardous environments. The video shows initial testing in a chemical protection suit and gas mask. PETMAN has sensors embedded in its skin that detect any chemicals leaking through the suit. The skin also maintains a micro-climate inside the clothing by sweating and regulating temperature. Partners in developing PETMAN were MRIGlobal, Measurement Technology Northwest, Smith Carter, CUH2A, and HHI.
This video shows versions of DARPA and Boston Dynamics robots climbing stairs, walking on a treadmill and doing pushups.
A modified platform resembling these robots is expected to be used as government-funded equipment (GFE) for performers in Tracks B and C of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Relea...). The GFE Platform is expected to have two arms, two legs, a torso and a head, and will be physically capable of performing all of the tasks required for the disaster response scenarios scheduled in the Challenge. However, despite the appearance of the robots in the video, the Challenge is decidedly not exclusive to humanoid robot solutions. Any designs are welcome provided they are compatible with shared human-robot environments, compatible with human tools, and compatible with human operators so that a human without expertise in robotics can give commands and confidently anticipate the response.
It is DARPA's position that achieving true innovation in robotics, and thus success in the Robotics Challenge, will require contributions from communities beyond traditional robotics developers. Hardware, software, modeling and gaming developers are sought to link with emergency response and various science communities to devise novel solutions that enable robots to respond to disasters according to the tasks laid out in DARPA's announcement (http://go.usa.gov/mVj) for the Challenge.
BigDog handles heavy objects. The goal is to use the strength of the legs and torso to help power motions of the arm. This sort of dynamic, whole-body approach to manipulation is used routinely by human athletes and will enhance the performance of advanced robots. Boston Dynamics is developing the control and actuation techniques needed for dynamic manipulation with funding from the Army Research Laboratory's RCTA program.
US Air Force Research Laboratory video animation of a flapping-wing micro air vehicle (MAV). AFRL's goal is to develop a bird-sized MAV by 2015 and an insect-sized MAV by 2030. The bird-sized MAV would be air-deployed from a larger UAV so search for weapons of mass destruction, operating semi-autonomously for up to a week.