Robots’ New Challenge: Pentagon Boot Camp

Published on December 22, 2013
by Dion Nissenbaum

They have been portrayed by Hollywood as deadly Terminators. They have been vilified as future automaton armies, hunting humans without conscience.

But these imposing robots, their makers say, are just here to help.

If all goes as planned, machines named THOR, Valkyrie and Atlas will rush in where humans fear to tread, rescuing earthquake victims and turning off potentially catastrophic radiation leaks.

To help developers come up with the rescue robots of the future, the Defense Department has embarked on a multimillion-dollar campaign. Competitors squared off Friday on a Nascar racetrack in Florida, where they engaged in a kind of slow-motion robot contest for survival—and for more Pentagon money.

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