|Image Source: Headbirths - Technology, Neuroscience, Philosophy|
"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," by Philip K. Dick, a rather colorful and disturbed science fiction writer, whose novel was the inspiration for the Dystopian movie: "Blade Runner." Like all good science fiction, it ask the question quite literally: "what does it mean to be 'human,' especially in light of self-aware androids in our midst. You'll see this is more about simulation than dreaming, but in thinking of a title, I fell for the poetic irony. DARPA coincidentally, played an early important role in the concept and development of the Internet.
In a month’s time, a motley assortment of robots will attempt to navigate a punishing obstacle course laid out in a fairground park in Pomona, California. At the challenge, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA), about two dozen machines will make their way through a series of tasks meant to push the limits of robot navigation, manipulation, and locomotion.
Before many of the robots set foot (or wheel) on the course, however, they will be put through their paces in a highly realistic virtual world. This 3-D environment, called Gazebo, makes it possible to try out robot hardware or software without having to power up the real thing. It’s a cheap and quick way to experiment without risking damage to valuable hardware components. And it allows many researchers to work on a single robot simultaneously.
“We are trying to mimic reality as closely as we can,” says Nate Koenig, CTO of the Open Source Robotics Foundation, which is developing Gazebo, and who has spent the last decade leading its development. “The goal is to easily switch over to a real robot.”
Technology Review: Even Robots Now Have Their Own Virtual World, Will Knight