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Tiny robots to soon compete in Olympic-style tests

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The US defense research agency is seeking designs for tiny robots to compete in Olympic-style evaluations, in an effort to develop machines that can be deployed for search and rescue operation in locations that are dangerous or inaccessible to humans.

Under a new programme proposed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US, the bots will compete against each other to test strength, speed, and agility.

In a natural disaster scenario, such as an earthquake, having the ability to navigate the rubble and enter highly unstable areas could prove invaluable to saving lives or detecting additional hazards among the wreckage.

Partnering rescue personnel with robots to evaluate high-risk scenarios and environments can help increase the likelihood of successful search and recovery efforts, or other critical tasks while minimizing the threat to human teams.

“Whether in a natural disaster scenario, a search and rescue mission, a hazardous environment, or other critical relief situation, robots have the potential to provide much-needed aid and support,” said Ronald Polcawich, a DARPA programme manager in the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO).

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