Meet 'Robosimian,' the Robot That Apes an Ape

This chimp is bananas. 

It doesn't throw its own feces, but that's mostly because it doesn't have them. 

Meet the Robosimian, a four-limbed robot designed to look and act, as its name helpfully suggests, like a primate. Created by the Robotics team at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the pseudo-simian (nickname: “Clyde”) finished fifth in DARPA's recent Robotics Challenge in Florida. And it has now been named a finalist in that competition—which means that Clyde, along with seven other automatons, will be receiving continued DARPA funding and a spot in the agency's Robotics Finals in late 2014.

As a matter of engineering, the Robosimian is impressive. As a matter of entertainment, the Robosimian is hilarious. While JPL insists that the creature is, indeed, inspired by a monkey (and while, in sitting and standing positions, it certainly resembles one), when it's walking around it's more akin to a four-legged spider. Regardless. The Robosimian can open doors. It can pick up narrow pieces of wood—and drop them. It can tighten bolts. It can fold its legs to make itself more compact. 

More to the point, though, the Robosimian can be useful to its non-robotic cousins (namely, us). DARPA announced its Robotics Competition after the Fukushima disaster of 2011; its contestants, the thinking goes, will one day become important tools in similar nuclear catastrophes—and in disaster relief more generally.

Via i09, hat tip Nicholas Slayton

 

 

 

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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