Researchers at Boston Dynamics have designed one of the most advanced humanoids ever to compete in DARPA's upcoming Robotics Challenge. But NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is taking a decidedly different, and more primitive, approach. Like with the country's first space explorers, NASA is once again turning to primates with its surprisingly capable RoboSimian.
Designed to mimic the posture and movements of a primate, the bot would primarily be used for search and rescue operations. And if you've ever seen footage of a chimpanzee or ape clambering through the thick jungle, it makes sense that a similarly capable robot could navigate a disaster zone with ease. Furthermore, with no defined front or back, it doesn't matter if the robot gets flipped around or knocked over, it will always be oriented the right way.
And despite lacking a more human form factor, the RoboSimian should be just as capable at handling the pre-described tasks in the Robotics Challenge, like entering and driving a vehicle. After all, who of us hasn't wished we could drive with our feet so we could leave our hands free for other tasks? [NASA JPL via Dvice]