DARPA Calls for the Development of 2,000% More Efficient Robotic Systems
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), U.S. defense research organization is working and financing on to develop more efficient bipedal robots by improving their battery performance and movement. The organization has called for companies and “scientific and engineering specialties” to work on the efficient robotic systems that would be 2,000% more efficient than the present robotic systems.
In this regard, DARPA has published the call for proposals on Tuesday for its M3 Actuation Program.
“By exploring multiple aspects of robot design, capabilities, control and production, we hope to converge on an adaptable core of robot technologies that can be applied across mission areas,” said Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager. “Success in the M3 Actuation effort would benefit not just robotics programs, but all engineered, actuated systems, including advanced prosthetic limbs.”
The M3 Actuation Program has two components, Track 1 and Track 2. Track 1 will concentrate on improving the efficiency of robots in terms of movements and battery power and Track 2 will focus on enhancing the movement technologies beyond the scope of Track 1.
"A robot that carries hundreds of pounds of equipment over rocky or wooded terrain would increase the range warfighters can travel and the speed at which they move," Darpa wrote. "But a robot that runs out of power after 10 or 20 minutes of operation is limited in its utility."
According to DARPA, companies have to take inspiration from the living world.
"Animals operate with significantly higher energy efficiency than today's robots. For example, a horse travels with a specific resistance of 0.01 to 0.02, compared to a specific resistance of one to three for several current legged robots," the organization wrote in a PDF. "This difference of two orders of magnitude is believed to be due in large part to differences in the efficiency of actuation."
DARPA offers $2.5m (£1.6m) per project per phase for winning proposals or components of proposals in Track 1 and $500,000 for Track 2.
This scheme is a significant part of the Darpa Robotics Challenge (DRC) that will be launched in October 2012. This challenge will take occur for 27 months “with three planned competitions, one virtual followed by two live. Events are planned for June 2013, December 2013 and December 2014.”
Image credit: Darpa