The robots in use around the world today are built for very specific purposes. But researchers at Georgia Tech hope that one day they could do more, to the point of using other tools and objects to handle any number of tasks. Like a cyborg version of MacGyver, but with less mullet.
Led by professor Mike Stilman, the team at Georgia Tech will use a three-year $US900,000 grant from the US Office of Naval Research to develop a bot that uses a custom algorithm to scan a room for random objects, size up their usefulness and functions, and then use it to accomplish a more complex task. Starting with a working knowledge of physics, rigid body mechanics and basic engineering, it's hoped that eventually the robot could do something as simple as use a chair or a ladder to grab something out of its reach.
It's just too bad they're not modelling their robot off the A-Team. Then they could play that awesome 'building stuff' music whenever it started assembling its own tools.