In a new video, the Boston Dynamics-manufactured humanoid robot called “PETMAN” is shown with a flame-retardant camouflage jumpsuit and a gas mask walking, squatting, rotating and performing some other human-like actions.
This robot is part of the Pentagon’s focus on more lifelike humanoid robots which approach the efficiency of human beings. One of the Navy’s robots can even recognize gestures and throw grenades.
In addition to the human-like robots, the Pentagon is focusing on robots modeled after animals like the autonomous jellyfish drone, drones modeled after insects that are capable of killing, a bird-like drone already seen in the wild, ultra-quiet drones modeled after owls and a record-breaking robot modeled after a cheetah.
This particular robot, shown in the Boston Dynamics video (embedded below), was manufactured for the Department of Defense’s Chemical and Biological Defense program.
According to Danger Room, a robot like this would be used to perform rescue missions that wouldn’t be safe for a human being in a chemical or biological attack situation.
“That is, if it can maneuver past rubble, navigate uneven spaces and retain its balance, all of which are difficult propositions for a robot,” writes Spencer Ackerman.
However, according to Boston Dynamics, PETMAN is actually designed to test chemical protection clothing.
“Unlike previous suit testers that had a limited repertoire of motion and had to be supported mechanically, PETMAN balances itself and moves freely; walking, bending and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents,” Boston Dynamics states.
Yet robots closely related to PETMAN are clearly aimed at going far beyond just testing suits, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Pet-Proto robot shown navigating obstacles in the video below.
A robot somewhat similar to PETMAN, called Atlas, will be used in the DARPA Robotics Challenge program in 2013, according to Boston Dynamics.
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