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Pentagon Contest Seeks Futuristic Robots To Respond to Disasters

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has unveiled details about a contest to build futuristic robots that could be our new first responders.

The contest was inspired by the “Fukushima 50,” the men who stayed behind at the Japanese plant to work to a avert nuclear meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Teams picked by the Pentagon will compete for a $2 million prize in the contest, which is subdivided into different “tracks.” One group will compete to develop the best software to control advanced humanoids similar to DARPA’s Pet Proto robot. Another will try to create their own robots from scratch. The goal is to create machines that that can navigate obstacles and debris and operate vehicles and heavy machinery—the things emergency workers are often required to do in the event of a catastrophe. 

The competition is the latest in a series from DARPA, which earlier challenged teams to develop autonomous or self-driving vehicles that are now inching ever closer to reality.