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Unless you’re the Earth’s last hope, we would never advise getting into a fight with a robot. Still it’s useful to know what the latest developments in robo-combat.
For instance, a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed something that looks perfect for the kind of human-controlled robo-battles we’ve only seen in movies to date.
It’s called Hermes and, while it looks fairly innocuous, it looks capable of doing serious damage.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the bot, which is controlled using a full body suit, is that its controller feels physical feedback when the robot is impacted or has balance issues. That, the researchers say, is meant to address the difficulties with balance typically faced by bipedal robots.
Although watching the MIT-bot punch through pieces of wood is pretty impressive (it’s purposely designed to be stronger than a human), the team behind insist that it’s actually not designed for single combat.
Instead they hope that its strength can be combined with its dexterity (watch it pour a cup of coffee in the video below) for disaster relief work.
Right now, the team says, having a human controller is the right way to go, but it hasn’t ruled out giving the robot more intelligence in the near future:
“[W]e decided that connecting the robot to a human operator was the easiest way to incorporate the kind of intelligence we need,” said Albert Wang, a project team member at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, on MIT’s site. “It would take a computer a long time and a lot of programming to come to the quick conclusions that humans come to almost instantaneously through good instincts.”