Carlsbad software writer 5D Robotics Inc. received a $100,000 U.S. Army contract to develop an autonomous robot that can interact with humans.
Builders hope that their robot, called Minotaur, will react to visual and gestural commands from its teammates, and be sophisticated enough to work beside first-responders and soldiers.
With the Minotaur project, 5D Robotics will integrate its proprietary 5D Behavior Engine, including its “Follow Me” and “Guarded Motion” capabilities, with Charles River Analytics’ vision-based tracking and gesture recognition technology to process specific commands.
5D software enables any robot to autonomously follow its teammates through complex environments while avoiding collision with people or objects. Integrating Charles River’s visual recognition technology means the robot can now take cues from its human teammates and follow directions autonomously.
Similar to how soldiers, police, and firefighters might get visual cues from their teammates via hand signals, the Minotaur project will enable those same recognition and response behaviors in robots.
The success of the project will first impact how war fighters interact with robots on the battlefield. Future commercialization could mean human-robot teams in a variety of sectors including law enforcement and emergency response, with later applications in senior care support and hospitality.
Minotaur will be a bi-coastal effort. 5D Robotics will provide the software that lets the robot autonomously follow its teammates through complex environments while avoiding collision with people or objects.
Partner Charles River Analytics Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., will provide the vision-based tracking and gesture recognition technology.
Minotaur stands for Multinodal Interface for Natural Operator Teaming with Autonomous Robot.
The project is in the initial phase of what could be a three-phase government award. The Army?s TARDEC unit awarded the deal under the Small Business Innovation Research program. TARDEC stands for Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
5D Robotics’ CEO, David Rowe, said Minotaur may one day have commercial applications.