April 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM ET
This video of a headless, humanoid robot racing up stairs, running on a treadmill, and doing push-ups just might scar you for life on this Friday the 13th. It’s a daunting preview of the kind of machines you’ll always want on your side, or no side at all.
The robot is Boston Dynamic’s Petman model that is being developed for DARPA, the futuristic research arm of the U.S. military. The robotics company benignly describes it as “an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing.”
Yeah, right. That clearly explains why DARPA posted the video of it racing up plywood stairs – in slow motion – then running on a treadmill while being pushed around and doing pushups as if training to take on Rocky Balboa.
Just in case that chemical test goes smoothly and the military has a spare headless robot around, they’ll probably find some other ways to use it.
In fact, as Popular Science notes, “a modified version of this platform will be used as the government-funded equipment for the tracks of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge.”
That’s the $2 million robot challenge the agency formally announced on Tuesday for a humanoid robot to replace actual humans in disaster recovery scenarios such as the aftermath of terrorist attacks and a nuclear meltdown.
--Via Popular Science
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.