James Cameron's obscenely successful film Avatar involves soldiers traveling to a distant world in search of a valuable resource. The environment and the natives are hostile, however, so they train soldiers to remotely operate avatars: They hook their brains up to a machine and effectively become the artificial person on the other end. However, you might have been too caught up in the 3-D and fighting cat people to stop and realize what an amazingly useful (if creepy) technology this would be for a military that wants to keep its "real" soldiers out of harm's way. But the Pentagon sure as hell realized it, as evidenced by their aptly named Project Avatar. That's the thing about having R&D budgets in the billions: If you see a movie you like, you can just call up a few scientists and say, "Make all the badass parts actually happen."
Thus DARPA, the hive of batshit insane supervillainy that develops cutting-edge tech for America's armies, has budgeted $7 million to fund robots that work just like avatars. We're not talking about remote-controlled drones, either. Those are old news. No, DARPA wants to "develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bipedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier's surrogate." Bipedal is the key word there. That means they want a walking humanoid robot to do all of the things a soldier would do if he or she were there. And no, it doesn't sound like they're talking about handing the soldier a control pad and letting him play his robot like a video game.
They refer to developing the technology of "telepresence" and letting the robot act as a "surrogate" body.
Kemo D. 7