Over at The Atlantic, where we will be guest blogging for Megan, I have a piece about the progress of technology and why we should all be futurists now. One sign of progress is improvement of autonomous vehicles, and the DARPA Grand Challenge, which paid million dollar cash rewards, played a big part in helping that along. Now DARPA has a new challenge for humanoid robotics. Here is a summary of the challenge:

The goal of this Grand Challenge is to create a humanoid robot that can operate in an environment built for people and use tools made for people. The specific challenge is built around an industrial disaster response.

There are also details on what the humanoid robot will be required to do:

1) The robot will maneuver to a open frame utility vehicle, such as a John Deere Gator or a Polaris Ranger. The robot is to get into the driver’s seat and drive it to a specified location.

2) The robot is to get out of the vehicle, maneuver to a locked door, unlock it with a key, open the door, and go inside.

3) The robot will traverse a 100 meter, rubble strewn hallway.

4) At the end of the hallway, the robot will climb an ladder.

5) The robot will locate a pipe that is leaking a yellow-colored gas (non-toxic, non-corrosive). The robot will then identify a valve that will seal the pipe and actuate that valve, sealing the pipe.

6) The robot will locate a broken pump and replace it.

Hopefully this will spur progress on humanoid robotics like the other Grand Challenges have spurred progress in autonomous vehicles.