While their rivals two T stops over are building a robotic facehugger, MIT’s crack team of robopocalypse-advancing nerds have been trying to build a robot that can run you down like a wounded gazelle. And they’ve just achieved an important step with that, as it can now dodge obstacles autonomously.
OK, so far, it can only avoid blocks of foam, but setting aside the Terminator jokes here, this is actually pretty impressive. One of the big problems robots have with interacting with the real world is that they’re very literal; they have to see an object, make a detailed plan, and enact that detailed plan step by step. This has made building nimble robots a bit of an issue, especially because most of human locomotion is basically a controlled fall. Robots also lack proprioception, or an understanding of where all its parts are relative to the rest of the world, making dodging obstacles quickly that much harder.
So, to have a robot that can spot an obstacle, quickly process the distance, and leap over it is a complex technical feat this team should be proud of — right up until the moment this robot turns on its masters and mauls them, before sprinting into Kendall Square to kill all humans.