“DARPA, the bleeding-edge research wing of the United States Department of Defense, has revealed that it will spend millions of dollars on a project called “Avatar.” If you’ve seen the movie of the same name — the highest-grossing movie of all time — let me put your mind at rest: DARPA isn’t looking to genetically engineer blue-skinned aliens that humans can control; no, they’re developing robots.
In the words of DARPA itself, the Avatar program will work on “interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bipedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.” In other words, DARPA wants to develop the walking equivalent of an unarmed aerial vehicle; a bipedal robot drone where the controlling soldier is hundreds or thousands of miles away from war front.
If you’ve been following ExtremeTech for the last few months, you’re probably experiencing sweaty a mix of terror and excitement right now. This Avatar program isn’t some pipe dream: We already have the technology to pull it off. Remember Petman, the walking, kneeling, push-upping bipedal robot? Created by Boston Dynamics, the same company behind AlphaDog, Petman was advertised as a tool for testing chemical protection clothing — but really, it didn’t take a genius to imagine a weaponized version”.