XopherMV writes "USA Today reports a military project aimed at building smarter robots has given researchers the wheels they need to make their automatons go. Originally developed by New Hampshire-based Segway for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program, the firm's Robotic Mobility Platform (RMP) allows robot developers to focus more on the thinking power of their machines while providing a quick mode of transportation. Segway's self-balancing robot platform takes up about 2 square feet and comes equipped with software and interface electronics necessary to receive, process and execute commands from an onboard robot payload. "It was a minor modification to what we had," Morrell said. "The challenges for us were largely in declining to get too fancy, and keeping it really simple." Capable of carrying 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and moving about 8 miles (12 kilometers) an hour, the platform has two different modes. Researchers can choose between its standalone function as a robot's wheels or a tractor-like mode for towing trailers or other loads. "The goal is not to have researchers worry about transportation," Morrell said. "That way, if [a robot's computer algorithms] work on an RMP, then you could put it on a Hummer or anything else.""
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