DARPA's annual robotics challenge starts tomorrow, and already, we're looking forward to glimpsing our future overlords — including the "RoboSimian," a monkey-like quadruped that will probably not kill you if you ask it nicely.
The RoboSimian, which was built by a team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is actually a very benevolent robot monkey. It was designed to go into disaster zones where humans can't safely go — places like the Fukushima nuclear reactor — and manipulate tools and objects with its multi-jointed limbs. The RoboSimian's limbs, its creators explain in this YouTube video, have as much torque as a Ford F-150 truck. And unlike human emergency workers, they're not susceptible to radiation exposure and other hazards of rescue work.
If the RoboSimian worked, it could be a huge benefit to first-response teams and disaster relief agencies. So as you go to sleep tonight, just try to imagine the RoboSimian running into a burning building to save you, rather than picking you up and slowly crushing you in its truck-strength arms.