from IEEE Spectrum:
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, unveiled last month an ambitious program to significantly advance robotic manipulation.
The four-year Autonomous Robotic Manipulation, or ARM, program aims at developing both software and hardware that would enable robots to autonomously perform complex tasks with humans providing only high-level direction.
This being DARPA, the tasks include things like disarming bombs and finding guns in gym bags. But as it’s happened with other DARPA initiatives, the program could have a broader impact in non-military robotics as well.
The program has three components. In the software track, six teams will each receive a half-million dollar two-armed robot [photo above, and still nameless], to be used as a standard platform that they will have to program. In the hardware track, three teams will design and build new multi-fingered hands, which will have to be both robust and low cost.
The last track is the one I find most interesting. It consists of an outreach component, in which DARPA is essentially inviting anyone to participate by developing software and testing it out in one of its half-million dollar robots.
And more from the DARPA ARM website:
Over the course of the program in the Software Track, funded performers will be developing algorithms that enables the DARPA robot to execute these numerous tasks. DARPA is also making an identical robot available for public use. Allowing anyone the opportunity to write software, test it in simulation, upload it to the actual system, and then watch, in real-time via the internet, as the DARPA robot executes the user’s software. Teams involved in this Outreach Track will be able to compete and collaborate with other teams from around the country.
Cool! No idea yet if there will be a selection process for projects that get to run on the ARM robot hardware, but it’s nice to see an open gesture towards the larger robotics community.