Blowback against DARPA’s Atlas

Darpa Grand Challenge Failure 2004I can’t believe all the negative publicity Darpa’s Atlas is getting.  I’m even more surprised that some of it is coming from robotic news sites:,2817,2421687,00.asp

Of course there’s some positive reporting on this humanoid and its capabilities:

However, I expect robot publications to taut the technical advantages and benefits, regardless of what the public may fear or feel, especially as robotic developments result in a physical resemblance to robots in science fiction.

I do wonder how DARPA is promoting this robot ‘out of the shoot’.  In 2004, I witnessed a PR problem first-hand while working at the DARPA Grand Challenge.  When no team finished the challenge, the headlines all around the world read, ‘No one finishes DARPA Robot Race’.  It was never a race, nor about finishing; it was about the promulgation of technology to drive and spur autonomous vehicles.  It was actually a success.  Here’s a quote confirming this in yesterday’s NY Times by the current head of the DARPA Robotics Challenge:   “Dr. Pratt said he hoped that the robot contest would have an impact similar to the autonomous vehicle challenge it began in 2004. “What the prior Darpa challenges did is that, by injecting all of these resources and by having a strong and visible competition, they really pushed the field over that hump, and now people know that it can be done,” he said.”