The Singapore government's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) has started a competition to build a fully autonomous robot for urban warfare.
One million Singapore dollars (around £330,000) is up for grabs in the TechX Challenge to build a robot that can climb stairs, negotiate obstacles, use lifts and identify human targets without any human control.
"Operation in urban areas represents a significant challenge," DSTA chief executive Richard Lim said at the launch of the competition.
"Recent military experiences in Iraq, the Middle East and other locations have clearly illustrated these challenges."
The competition poses unique challenges for robotics developers, since GPS signals usually used to control remote devices cannot be detected inside most buildings.
Sophisticated vision interpretation systems will have to be developed with the appropriate computing power to manage them.
While it is possible to program in specific floor plans that allow robots to move around buildings with ease, obstacles in the real world may be left out that cause the robot confusion.
Applications must be submitted by the end of May 2007 and a shortlist will be revealed in June. A qualifying round will be held in May 2008, and the final competition is scheduled for August 2008.
DSTA reserves the right to use the winning design in its armed forces, but the intellectual property for the design will rest with the inventors.
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