While it's not unusual for a nation to desire a full fledged robot army to handle its dirty work, Singapore's Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) is actually offering up a reward to anyone who can "build a robot that can operate autonomously in urban warfare conditions." Obviously, the task is easier said than done, but the country is aiming to acquire an intelligent, street-fighting machine that can move in and out of buildings, open and close doors, and most importantly, "search and destroy targets like a human soldier." Notably, anyone (including institutions) in the world is open to participate in the TechX Challenge, but foreigners must collaborate with local partners in their construction. The contest is being created in order to shift away from remote-controlled robots that tie up human resources, but the goals of the project may indeed be a bit lofty for today's technology. Robert Richardson from the University of Manchester, UK has proclaimed that the "competition could present a major challenge to even the most sophisticated robot," and added that doors and elevators would likely give the autonomous drones the most problems. Crafty individuals interested in the admittedly tempting S$1 million ($652,000) reward must (hastily) submit their entry by May of this year, where a few rounds of elimination will eventually end when a winner is chosen in August of 2008.

[Thanks, John S.]

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Singapore's DSTA launches urban warfare robot contest