DARPA and Boston Dynamics's humanoid robot PETMAN was completed in 2011 to walk like a man. Now, it has been upgraded to climb stairs like a man and do an impressive round of push-ups.
Check out PETMAN's new tricks:
Before you get creeped out and think PETMAN was created to take over the world, the Huffington Post points out according to Boston Dynamics's website the robot was created to test chemical protection clothing. Boston Dynamics states:
Unlike previous suit testers, which had to be supported mechanically and had a limited repertoire of motion, PETMAN will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents. PETMAN will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions.
Natural, agile movement is essential for PETMAN to simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions. The robot will have the shape and size of a standard human, making it the first anthropomorphic robot that moves dynamically like a real person.
PETMAN took 13 months to design and 17 months to build, not including the more recent refinements that have allowed it to climb stairs or do push-ups. Although you may think climbing stairs isn't really that big of a deal, in the world of free-standing bipedal robots, having the balance necessarily to perform tasks such as stairs or rough terrain is more difficult than you would imagine.
DARPA has also recently announced its Robotics Challenge, set to take place in October 2012 with a grand prize of $2 million for the team who can help meet the disaster recovery mission goals. According to the press release about the challenge, teams will compete in disaster-response scenarios where the robot will perform tasks similar to those necessary to meet real-world disaster-response requirements.
Read more about the competition here.