Witness the future approaching. It walks like an angry man; it buzzes like a machine; it has a red flashing light for a head. It is called PETMAN.
PETMAN (or Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin if you really want to pretend it’s an acronym) is the creation of the US military’s DARPA robotics lab, the same place that gave birth to the terrifyingly life-like canine robot, Big Dog.
PETMAN is the first biped robot to really start to emulate the fluidity and balance of human movement. As you can see in the video above, the humanoid can squat, twist, do press ups, and even stay on course when pushed by its irritating mentor (the more life-like robots become, the more we seem to enjoy pushing them around…). But the video above was in fact filmed a year ago. Now PETMAN has evolved…
Pet-Proto, a close relative of PETMAN, is able to negotiate the kind of obstacles that might be found in disaster zones. Such challenges also form the basis for DARPA’s upcoming Robotics Challenge, where teams will be tasked with creating software to enable robots like Pet-Proto to perform even more advanced disaster-relief tasks, like driving cars, operating power tools and even replacing industrial machinery. When such amazing things occur, we’ll let you know.