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Robots: A History: Robots in the Military

Robots and the Military

Many modern day robotics breakthroughs happen because of the development of military technology, and the uses of robotics are just as varied in the military as they are in civilian life.


Boston Dynamics is a research company that began as a spinoff of MIT, then was later bought by Google, Inc. The company is comprised of teams of engineers, scientists, and researchers who specialize in developing robotic and human simulation technology. 

DARPA stands for Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, a military research branch that dates back to the space race of the 1950s. Working to further develop military science and technology, they research fields from medical and biomechanical to physics, engineering, and of course, robotics. 
In the past 5 years, DARPA has launched the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), an international robotics competition aimed at increasing the knowledge and development of robotics, as well as stimulate interest in future generations. The challenge itself came into being after the nuclear tragedy in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, where it became clear that the development of robotics technology needs to increase not only for civilian and military use, but also for humanitarian uses as well. "The goal was to accelerate progress in robotics and hasten the day when robots have sufficient dexterity and robustness to enter areas too dangerous for humans and mitigate the impacts of natural or man-made disasters." (DRC homepage)

Aboard the narrow, sometimes almost claustrophobic quarters of US Navy ships, fires are dangerous for numerous reasons. Even with proper equipment, the gear that protect seamen from the flames is often times too bulky to adequately fight the fires head on. The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) is a human-sized autonomous robot with the ability to find and suppress shipboard fires while working aside human firefighters seamlessly

Military Standards at the Library

Military standards are papers, research, and documents published by the US military. Linda Hall Library has an extensive collection of such standards available for research. 

If you'd like to learn more, ask your reference librarian about how you can browse them in our catalog, or read them in our main reading room.


DARPA initiated the Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program in 2012. This program sought out research proposals with the intent of furthering discovery and development of technology that focused on advancing science and engineering for creating and actuating the manufacturing of ground robots.