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MacGyver Bot In Production From Georgia Tech

Roger Aguirre |
October 13, 2012 | 4:34 p.m. PDT



Mike Stilman and his robot (Georgia Tech University)
Mike Stilman and his robot (Georgia Tech University)
Machines have had a presence in the US Military for quite a while, with bomb disposing robots and sky drones becoming quite abundant in the US Military and to a smaller extent even local law enforcement.  But those machines still rely a lot on human intervention that limits the actions they may take.

That is why the US Navy has given a three year $900,000 grant to the Georgia Institute of Technology to work on what many are calling the “MacGyver bot.” The robot may not be able to start a truck with a pen and turkey baster, but the hope is the machine can turn a pipe into a lever.

Mike Stilman, Assistant professor of robotics at the Georgia Institute of Robotics, explains, “Our goal is to develop a robot that behaves like MacGyver, the television character from the 1980s, who solved complex problems and escaped dangerous situations by using everyday objects and materials he found at hand."   The robot will use a specially developed algorithm that should allow it to identify a random object and know how to manipulate it as a tool.  Of course its easier said than done as Stilman further explains,” This project is challenging because there is a critical difference between moving objects out of the way and using objects to make a way”. 

Aside from creating a robot that may help soldiers in the battlefield, the advances with the MacGyver bot may be used to further aid the development of other robots.  For example SAFFiR, a fire fighting robot the Navy also has developed, would benefit tremendously from the developments done with the Macgyver bot.  For the regular citizen it is thought that the advancements with this new software could lead to more advanced cleaning bots or even a robot butler or maid.  Of course these advancements are many years to come but this could be a key step in the proliferation of advanced robotics.

Reach Contributor Roger Aguirre here.


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