Video: Robbie, the DARPA ARM robot

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Robbie the robot was created by a company known as RE2. The 'bot was originally equipped with only one arm, but under DARPA's auspices, Robbie has evolved exponentially.

RE2 is only one of six different teams DARPA contracted to work on its Autonomous Robotic Manipulation program. This particular initiative launched a couple of years ago, with the specific goal of developing robots capable of performing complex tasks with minimum input.

The original six-teams has since been narrowed to three, with the remaining paricipants stepping up their work with DARPA to perfect a robotic design. RE2 was chosen by DARPA as one of its teams, and as a result, its robot gained a second arm.

Both of robotic Robbie's arms have 7° of freedom and can rotate at the wrist. The hands boast multiple fingers with enough dexterity for handling objects. The fingers are particularly hi-tech, as they are equipped with integrated pressure sensors so Robbie can touch and sense its environment. Along with those hi-tech fingers and highly mobile arms, Robbie also features a pair of stereo vision cameras, along with a LIDAR rig and microphones.

DARPA is investing heavily in the design and development of robots for multiple tasks, including one that is capable of walking across rough terrain strewn with rubble and performing complicated repairs once it arrives at a specific location. The defense organization is also interested in robots that can remove injured soldiers and civilians from the battlefield or other dangerous scenarios.

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