The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is to embark on next-stage, advanced military robotics program called Avatar. The Avatar advances on DARPA’s existing combat zone ready prototype robots such as AlphaDog and Petman. According to DARPA, the Avatar robot will be a "semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine" capable of performing as a stand-in soldier. The Avatar robots will be almost human-like, capable of handling military missions like clearing, sentry control and recovery of battle casualties. The agency expects the robots to greatly reduce injuries and deaths to soldiers on the war front. The program will develop interfaces and algorithms that make interaction and partnering between robots and soldiers as effective as possible. DARPA in conjunction with NASA is also working on an ambitious program to send humans to the stars in 100 years.
As a semi autonomous bipedal machine, the avatars will effectively act as a soldier’s surrogate. The robots will feature critical improvements in telepresence and remote operation of a ground system. DARPA’s robotics research is one amongst numerous other global efforts as nations explore the limits of robot military use. The need to place less humans on the war front with more machines predominantly informs this quest. The Agency will set aside $7 million from its $2 billion budget to work on the program.
DARPA recently showcased AlphaDog, a semi autonomous four Legged Squad Support System (LS3), that could reduce the load carried by soldiers. The robot, to be integrated with soldiers, is expected to improve soldier performance by carrying loads on the battlefield. In a recent test run, the agency demonstrated the LS3’s ability to carry a considerable load from dismounted squad members in battleground simulation. DARPA was one of the pioneering government agencies in the development of the internet. The agency is also involved in research initiatives to bolster internet security.