A DARPA funded project has tested a robot that can climb stairs and do push ups. The robot, according to its designers, can "balance itself, move freely; walk, do a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents."
PETMAN, according to Huffington Post, was first built for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) in 2011, but has now been modified to perform new feats such as climbing stairs.
According to Boston Dynamics, the company that developed the robot, the purpose was to test chemical protection clothing worn by the robot under realistic conditions. The company's website explained: "Natural, agile movement is essential for PETMAN to simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions." The company explained further: "The robot will have the shape and size of a standard human, making it the first anthropomorphic robot that moves dynamically like a real person."
Boston Dynamics explained the robot can also "simulate human physiology," by imitating human sweating using temperature and humidity controls. The robot also has the capability to balance itself when pushed from the side, by side-stepping in compensation for the force applied.
Technabob reported that recently, DARPA announced its DARPA Robotic Challenge competition with an offer of tens of millions of dollars in funding to teams anywhere in the world that can develop robots capable of performing complicated tasks and steps demonstrating a robot assisting in an industrial disaster. The robot has to be able to "open doors, walk through rubble-strewn walls, and turn valves in addition to other tasks." According to DARPA, the goal of the contest is to “develop ground robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments.”
This is not the first robot Boston Dynamics has developed.The company recently developed a four-legged BIGDOG described as the "the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics robots."
The video of BIGDOG (see above) recently released, showed the "beast," running, climbing and carrying loads. Huffington Post reports BIGDOG can also walk on ice. The robot also displayed an animal-like ability to keep balance when kicked or pushed with the intention of knocking it over. According to Boston Dynamics, "In separate tests BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, climbs a muddy hiking trail, walks in snow and water, and carries a 340 lb load. BigDog set a world's record for legged vehicles by traveling 12.8 miles without stopping or refueling."
Other robots Boston Dynamics developed include a robotic "Cheetah" that can run up to 18 mph. According to Boston Dynamics, the robotic "Cheetah" holds the land speed record for robots.