If you’re worried about Skynet, take a quick gander at the outtakes reel (YouTube, inlined below the break) from the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) and you’ll feel a lot better. The IEEE Spectrum reporters assigned to the DRC took a break from their otherwise serious coverage and made this funny compilation of all the multi-million dollar robotic fails to go along with this article.
So you’re probably safe from the Terminator for at least a couple of years. But before you start getting too smug, human, remember what happened with the DARPA Grand Challenge that focused on autonomous cars; no teams finished in 2004, but five teams finished just a year later in a reasonably tight race. The DARPA Challenges are as much about learning as anything else.
And bear in mind, as you watch these robots falling over while trying to turn a doorknob, that they’ve sat down in and driven a car in a previous phase of the trial. That’s pretty darn cool.