The folks over at Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL) have come up with a prototype of a spy robot that's smarter than the average bot. Focusing on covert robotics, their Spy Robot will zig and zag to avoid any patches of light and scurry for cover to hide from any approaching humans.
Lockheed Martin's Spy Robot is equipped with a laser scanner so it can recreate it's environment in 3D and build a computer model from it later on. Acoustic sensors enable it to pick up on the surrounding sound and movement so that it can literally hide itself away from anyone (or anything) that could be approaching.
Brian Satterfield, the lead engineer of the project, explains that the Spy Robot was designed with four main constraints in mind: avoiding visible detection by sentries of known locations, avoiding potential locations by sentries whose positions were unknown, avoiding areas where the robot would have no means of escape, and avoiding areas that were well lit.
Alan Wagner from the Georgia Institute of Technology adds, "Lockheed Martin's approach does include a sort of basic theory of mind, in the sense that the robot makes assumptions about how to act covertly in the presence of humans." In other words, the Spy Robot was made as if it understood how it was perceived by the outside world.
However, the level of the robot's software is limited to just following task-specific instructions so it might have a hard time finding cover in varied environments. But it's still an impressive feat as Satterfield reveals that the Spy Robot was made with just off-the-shelf components.
Source: Lockheed Martin ATL