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Maybe not sci-fi, but robots readied for big tests

12-15-13

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. (AP) — Robots being built in labs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and elsewhere are heading to Florida this week for a government-sponsored competition on doing humanlike tasks.

Top prize in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s robot challenge is $2 million.

The machines have sizes and shapes similar to humans and are being programmed to start and drive all-terrain vehicles, climb ladders and open doors. All the jobs could be done at disaster sites.

Real robots are not as sophisticated as the talking, thinking ones in science fiction. But Lockheed Martin laboratory director Bill Borgia says the models being worked on represent advances.

He says his team is trying to make a machine that can be controlled intuitively by an untrained operator.