By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If robots are able to save human beings in the next nuclear disaster, we may have Drexel University to thank.
Daniel Lofaro is one of the leaders of Drexel’s robotics team but the real STAR is Hubo — the humanoid robot the team’s adapting and programming to drive a car into a disaster site, climb steps, move debris and turn valves.
“We have specific groups working on vision, specific groups working on walking, specific groups just working on valve turning. It can change from biped to quadriped walking, has extremely strong hands so it can grab onto things and climb up steps,” Lofaro said about the beta DRC Hubo.
This is not the first time the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has made a contest of solving a technological challenge, but this one was right up Drexel’s alley.
“We’re one of the few places in the United States that works with full size humanoid robots and since we have hundred of man years in humanoids, it’s our moral obligation to put our skills to this greater good,” Lofaro said.
Drexel is working with nine other schools, but its next door neighbor, Penn, is working with one of the opposing teams — the University of Virginia, but Lofaro says he is not worried.
Drexel also faces Carnegie Mellon, two NASA teams and a Japanese company. The final competition is in December.