If you thought the prospect of being chased down by one of DARPA's terminator-wannabes was horrifying, there's a whole new flavour of terror for you to consider: the iStruct robo-ape. It's just barely limping along for now, but it's easy to imagine it galloping out of your nightmares someday soon.
The robo-ape — developed by DFKI (the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) — is still in its early testing phases, as is plenty apparent by its slowly, careful gait. But the form factor has already proven itself pretty versatile in nature, and it seems plenty possible that this thing will be lurching and climbing around in no time.
What exactly DFKI is attempting to accomplish with its robo-ape isn't totally clear, but the admittedly vague description suggests it's all about melding robots' locomotive structures with sensors and internal wiring. The result are "intelligent structures", robotic analogues for biological structures like legs that move and feel, or a full-on artificial spines. It's a step closer to building robots like they are real living creatures that just happen to be made out of metal and plastic.
Clearly this can only mean one thing: there's an army in the making, and a Planet of the Apes and Terminator crossover will be real life. Better get to work on developing some robot bananas in the meantime. [DFKI via IEEE Spectrum]