US military unveils humanoid robot

Washington, July 13 (IANS) The US military has unveiled one of its most-advanced humanoid robots known as Atlas, which was created to assist in future emergency situations, the American Forces Press Service reported.

The 1.9-meter tall, 150-kg Atlas robot, built by Boston Dynamics, is funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Xinhua quoted the report as saying.

The Atlas robot can make a range of natural movements and has an on-board, real-time control computer, it said.

The Atlas also boasts 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso as well as an articulated sensor head that employs laser beams to measure distances.

Seven copies of the robot are being provided to the teams to take part in a DARPA-funded competition in December 2014, with a $2-million prize to the one that programs their Atlas to best perform a rescue mission in a hypothetical scenario, said the report.

"These seven teams will see if their simulation-honed algorithms can run a real machine in real environments," the report quoted DARPA Program Manager Gill Pratt as saying. "We expect all the teams will be further refining their algorithms using both simulation and experimentation."

Pratt said the agency hopes to employ the competition to prove that robots can be compatible in environments engineered for people -- opening doors, climbing stairs and moving around, even in environments degraded by some sort of disaster.

DARPA also wants to demonstrate that robots can be made to use tools designed for people, from screwdrivers to fire trucks, and that robots can be supervised by people who aren't trained to operate robots, Pratt added.

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