Yes, raising the bar will definitely lead to new innovations. In fact, I would not say:It would be fascinating, but that: It will be fascinating to see what technology developments come out of this competition.
This competition is grueling and it is great to see DARPA continuing to raise the bar. It would be fascinating to see what technology developments come out of thsi competition that actually get commercialized.
Yes, you are right about DARPA ofter failing--usually because they set their expectations to high. So it is refreshing that they set them high, but not high enough. There is worldwide interest in deveoping smart robots--one reason--and of course a $2 million purse doesn't hurt :)
@DrQuine, there is an implicit assumption in your prediction - that it will be a robot instead of many. That is really where the complexity lies. Break out the tasks and imagine a robot for each and the problem becomes much simpler. This is similar to the advent of electric motors. The predictions at the time were that the complexity of bringing all the work to a motor would be overwhelming. The solution: Build a whole bunch of motors.
@KB3001 Good point. Personal care of the elderly is a growing need. It will be interesting to see how the humanoid robot gets "qualified" (certified) as a registered nurse, LPN, or aide. Once done, they will have the advantage that a given model of robot may be precertified without the need for individual attendence in years of nursing school as humans are required to do. I'd predict a very long development cycle before they're able to do much more than deliver meals. They'll certainly need solid programming to ensure fail-safe operations and appropriate responses to unexpected problems.
Not sure about your "robots" prediction, DrQuine. The Japanese are already introducing humanoids to help the aged. Most advanced countries will follow suit because they will face the same problems soon.
I'm pleased that DARPA is making such good progress that the bar can be raised. All too often, projects fail to meet their objectiive and the expectations must be lowered. Congratulations to DARPA and the hard working engineering teams.
I predict that we will not see many robots in daily living in the future. They will be concentrated in the military, heavy manufracturing, and emergency rescue applications. Instead I expect that the Internet will become even more ubiquitious (as if it isn't already wiith SmartPhones). smart devices (like autonomous cars) will require less human intervention, and we'll all be struggling when failed devices (intermittent problems can't get fixed) make it hard to do things that used to be simple.