DARPA Putting More Time, Money Into Humanoid Robot

robot-challengeThe Pentagon is giving more time and money to companies that have shown promise in fielding a humanoid robot.

Eleven of 16 firms that put their robot prototypes through their paces in June at have now been given an additional six months and $1.5 million each by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue their work, the Pentagon said on July 15.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge, or DRC, was originally scheduled to end with a winning robot in December, but has now been pushed back to June.

The 11 teams receiving DARPA funds will also be competing against privately funded teams, both domestic and international.

The Pentagon characterizes the humanoid robot it is looking to develop as an asset that could be deployed worldwide to assist first responders in rescue operations.

If there is also a weaponized version a la The Terminator anywhere in the plan the Pentagon has not said so.

The winning team of the DARPA Robotics Challenge will be awarded $2 million.

The extended time and increased budget was not because of missed timetables or disappointment with technologies, but actually because the trials held in Florida last December were so successful, according to a report in the National Defense, the news magazine of the National Defense Industry Association.

Gill Pratt, DRC program manager, told the magazine this month that “things went better than we expected at the DRC trials,” resulting in DARPA deciding to “raise the bar even more than what we had planned from the beginning.”

And since that means a greater challenge, additional time and money was appropriated to the DARPA teams, he said.

DARPA is expected to spend about $95 million on the program through 2015. The DRC began in 2012.

Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@monster.com.


About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
  • lance

    More proof that humanity has gotten lazy where a ambulance driver must be a robot because people gotten to lazy to help hurt people.

    Is Skynet next the idiots who run Obama’s military will want it.

  • Bernard

    This development has an enormous potential to save lives. If DARPA is successful here, then this will be one of their greatest contributions to humanity in a long time. Just imagine how many people could be saved from fires, collapsed buildings, floods, etc. that would have otherwise been left behind because of the risks. Now those risks will be mostly gone.

    • A.g.

      To read Humanity in a coment about robot sent to saving life more than human doing the task is slighty ironic.
      At best.

      • shnerk

        Better to send in a robot and not risk any humans.

  • guest


  • It makes sense to make humanoid robots, since most things are designed for use by humans. It would be worth it alone in just logistics, you can have “troops” to load and unload trucks, etc, that never need a break, feel the weather, get tired, or throw out their back.

  • Rat

    I’m sure the Marines will want a STOVL version….

  • hibeam

    Your brain is an analog computer about the size of a large meatloaf. If you think its impossible to build an artificial computer that is in every way superior then maybe your particular brain is the size of a McNugget.

    • guest

      The goal of DRC is not to create an android “in every way superior”. It is to create humanoid robots capable of navigating obstacle courses and perform simple tasks (opening doors, moving debris, operating simple machines). These types of tasks are more on par with chimps, gorillas, and other primates. You are smarter than a chimp, right?

    • Blake

      Why did you post this?
      No one else even said anything about it being impossible to build an artificial brain.
      Do you enjoy bringing up random and meaningless confrontation?

    • Also, with today’s technology, it is impossible to build an AI that equals human intelligence, much less be superior. Just getting a robot to understand, “go to the truck and get the blue medical bag” is a huge deal to have it complete. So this competition is a big deal, getting robots to perform under real world tasks and being able to navigate a building is a big task for the programmers. Perhaps you’re not the most qualified to be making judgments about other people’s brain capacity.

    • Kevin Smithwick

      Touché for creativity haha

  • rtsy

    Every time I see these robots I can’t help but imagine a carrier filled with them, loading missiles onto UCAVs.

  • tiff

    DARPA should be banned from spending money on new humanoid projects until they figure out all causes of failure on GW Bush and Dick Cheney.

  • Tad

    In terms of aiding first responders, why would the human shape be desired? For example, small areas would need something the size and shape of a mouse or a cat, pipes might require something like a snake, while many situations would call for something shaped like an insect.

  • nick987654

    I can imagine a stealth plane like an F-35 dropping a robot from its internal bay (with a parachute ) to survey a particular strategic point like a bridge or airfield. The robot could designate targets for incoming air strike/artillery if needed.

  • rtsy

    The requirements for the challenge mention “supervised autonomy”. Does this mean they’ll be operated from a cargo container on the other side of the world?