April 13 - Massachusetts engineering company Boston Dynamics has brought the era of humanoid robots one mechanical step closer with its latest version of PETMAN, a robot that can now climb stairs, as well as walk and do push-ups. PETMAN's development is being supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US Defense Department's technological research wing. Ben Gruber reports.
It's a new milestone for engineering firm Boston Dynamics; PETMAN, their humanoid robot can now climb stairs. PETMAN is an acronym for Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin. Funded by the U.S. Defense Department, the robot is being designed to test chemical protection clothing for human soldiers in realistic situations. According to Boston Dynamics, PETMAN will eventually simulate human physiology as well, with an ability to control temperature, humidity and sweating while wearing the protective gear on trial. Thanks to a combination of sensors, gyros and computer software, PETMAN can keep his balance while simulating a variety of human movements. He can even do push-ups. DARPA, the US military's research arm has recently announced a challenge to robotics companies to develop humanoid robots that can work in environments designed for humans. The winners receive funding for their projects. Boston Dynamics and PETMAN have their eyes on the prize. Ben Gruber, Reuters.