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Meet NASA’s Ape-Like Robot, the RoboSimian

On June 5th, The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals will be held in Pomona, California. This year NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is entering a creation that is strikingly different from what we have seen them do in the past. Their project, The RoboSimian is a limbed disaster response robot that the team at JPL built specifically for submission in the DARPA challenge.

In the above episode of JPL’s YouTube series Crazy Engineering, the head of the RoboSimian project, Brett Kennedy, mentions that the robot was designed to be for disaster response, but was not built to be life-saving. Instead, the robot was conceived as a response to the nuclear meltdown at the Fukuskima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. With this in mind, the team at JPL wanted to build something that would be capable of human tasks in environments that were too dangerous for humans. JPL’s website offers this description of RoboSimian’s design and capability.

“With seven sets of stereo cameras for seeing and four limbs for maneuvering and manipulation, RoboSimian has been designed to traverse complicated terrain and perform dexterous tasks. The robot also features a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) device for mapping its environment in 3-D.”

The DARPA Challenge is free admission and open to the public, so anyone in the area interested in seeing RoboSimian and it’s abilities for themselves have a chance to do so on June 5th and 6th. The challenge runs four separate course for their robot submissions to conquer. These include such tasks as crossing a field of debris and getting into, driving, and exiting a vehicle. Each course has an hour-long run time. JPL will also have their own booth on site to showcase some of their other works based in robotics and disaster relief.

Think RoboSimian is going to win the DARPA Challenge? Sound off in the comments below!

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