US engineers begin work on tenacious, tool-finding MacGyver robot

By Sebastian Anthony on October 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm
 

A team of US-based engineers, funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and DARPA, has begun the development of a MacGyverbot — a robot that, like the tenacious TV hero MacGyver, can interact with its environment in novel ways to solve problems.

As it currently stands, robots are incredibly proficient at tasks they are specifically built and programmed to perform — such as a href=”http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/123765-automation-warehouse-robots-come-of-age-as-amazon-buys-kiva”>whizzing around Amazon’s huge fulfillment depots — but utterly useless at everything else. One production line robot can debone 500 pork ham thighs per hour — but you’d probably end up with serious internal bleeding if you gave it a toothbrush and instructed it to clean your teeth.

Ultimately, robots are just highly advanced, specific tools; you wouldn’t use a hammer to grate some cheese, and you wouldn’t use a robot to perform a task that it wasn’t designed for. Until now. If Mike Stilman — the project’s leader (pictured right), based at the Georgia Institute of Technology — has his way, we might soon have general purpose robots that can perform a variety of tasks, depending on their surroundings.

Read more: US engineers begin work on tenacious, tool-finding MacGyver robot | ExtremeTech.

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