Robot capabilities

Since the 1970’s, most research in robotics has been targeted at extending robot capabilities to unstructured environments – environments not prepared specially for them. Early attempts concentrated on navigation, both indoors and outdoors, and the 1997 Mars rover Sojourner was the first major deployed success. Ground robots have, since 2002, become common in the US military, tackling the problems of forward scouting and IED remediation in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Great further progress has been made with the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge where several robot vehicles autonomously drove 200 kilometers across a desert, and in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge where a number of vehicles autonomously drove in traffic in a town for six hours. Concurrently, the first service robots have become common, with several million autonomous cleaning robots deployed in ordinary US households. But there is a lot more that robots are capable of, and many more research challenges beyond navigation that will enable these new capabilities.

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