Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are working on a rescue robot that can take on both humanoid and tank forms like a Transformer. No word on whether it is a Decepticon or an Autobot. It’s called CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform) and it can work like a human (or monkey) when it needs to climb a ladder and such. But if the terrain gets rough, it can drop onto all fours, switch on its motorized treads, and become a tank.
In that form CHIMP can traverse disaster areas and seek out survivors. The robot is being developed by CMU for the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The goal of the Robotics Challenge is to take disaster response robots to the next level, making them capable of doing just about anything a human can do.
As part of the challenge, robots must be able to do everything from driving across rubble, to climbing a ladder, to breaking through concrete, to repairing a leaking pipe.
The key to this is flexibility. Sometimes two legs are better, other times four is what you need. I can’t wait to see where this goes. Thankfully, it will be some time yet before these flexible bots enslave us.