The Defense Advanced Project Agency (DARPA) Robotics
Challenge will allow only a single operator to send high-level
commands to the robot, but will degrade the wireless connection with
latency and intermittence. However, the operator will be able to
enlist helpers to "crowd source" helpful information from the
Internet. (Source: DARPA)
The DRC this go around requires:
No tethers for power or communications: Forces the teams to build batteries or other fuel sources into their 300 pound robots.
No"fall arrestors": Robots will have to be rugged enough to withstand a fall without damage and be able get up again on their own. No human assistance allowed to help a fallen or stuck robot.
Time is shorter: All tasks will have to be completed in one hour, rather than four, as was the case in the December 2013 trial runs.
Wireless communications channels will be intermittent and randomly degraded in bandwidth.
As a consequence, the final robot trial has been pushed back six months, with each funded team receiving $1.5 million instead of $1 million, to give them time to build-in power sources, wireless communications channels, write algorithms for getting up after a fall and convert from step-by-step remote control -- which depends on a reliable communications channel -- to short commands that depend on prewritten algorithms to execute.
The idea of the degraded channel is a good one. In the future I want to see the ability for hackers to try and disable or take over the robot via the communications channel. Need security on these designs...
- Issues of interference in the voice (various noises)
- Distance from the robot (that means a human needs
to be right next to the robot to be heard).
Remote commands are simpler, easier to have clarity,
simpler to recognize/follow without errors.
Think of it has the robot may be in a remote location, and perhaps a hazardous location. (For example space exploration). You would want simple commands to input remotely, and you would have intermitent communication issues and longer duration communication issues.
The robots still need to react to their surroundings.. (Balance, unforseen obstacles, falling, terrain, perhaps even damage like another robot running into them).
Yes, there are many legal hurdles to clear--some of them the same or similar to the driverless car--but I predict that by the time the algorithns are up to the the task, the law makers will have come to some sort of agreement with the service providers.
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