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Gill Pratt: DARPA Robotics Challenge Tested Human-Machine Collaboration

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DARPAGill Pratt, formerly a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has outlined the lessons learned from the DARPA Robotics Challenge and his views on human-robot interaction in an interview with Defense One published Sunday.

Patrick Tucker writes that the challenge sought to demonstrate collaboration between humans and robots in response to disasters and other emergency situations.

Pratt told the publication in an interview that the international activity also focused on scenarios in which emergency teams face communications and command-and-control challenges.

He indicated that functionalities such as autonomy and simulation also work to help human operators monitor the robot as it performs tasks without a continuous communications link.

“If [robots] are in a totally unstructured environment, figuring things out is very hard. In a structured environment like a lab, [they] know exactly where things are, so it’s very easy,” he said.

“Right now, we’re in a stage where robotics is good at things between those two extremes.”

Pratt also highlighted DARPA’s ongoing work on security for cloud-connected robotic systems and the protection of their collected data, as well as the current discussion in the technology community of the potential for autonomous weapon systems.

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