23 July, 2018
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for engineers to submit designs for bug-sized robots that can help in search-and-rescues after disasters, or help in inspecting hazardous environments. These little bots would face off and complete in a series of tests for strength, speed and agility.
The program, called Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms (SHRIMP), will test the robots in locations that are harder for humans (or bigger robots) to navigate. “The DoD (Department of Defense) has interests in robotics of all scales,” Ronald Polcawich, a DARPA program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office, told Digital Trends. “The development of small-scale robots requires addressing several unique challenges, especially in the area of extreme size and weight constraints that can be less of a priority for robots of other scales.
SHRIMP researchers will design and test new ways to power the small robots, as well as try new materials that could improve the robots’ performance without compromising on size or weight. Competitions that test robots’ untethered actuator-power systems will measure how high and far a robot can jump, how much weight it can lift, how far it can throw objects, and how how it fares in a tug-of-war. Another contest will evaluate complete robot designs to see their rock piling, climbing, navigation skills, or put them through a biathlon.