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Changing the World, One Robot at a Time

The best universities improve the world around them. The incredible work being done at Drexel doesn't stop on campus — it changes the world. And sometimes, that requires robots.

More specifically, Drexel's seven robots known as the Hubos.

The Hubos are humanoid robots, and each Hubo is just over four feet tall.

Since their arrival on campus, the Hubos have played a central role in research for various colleges and schools at Drexel. You might remember them as the robots that students in Drexel's Music and Entertainment Technology Lab (MET-lab) programmed to play the Beatles' "Come Together."

But now, the robots are being used for a greater good.

Drexel robotic engineers are leading an effort to program the Hubos to save lives during disasters. Rather than risk emergency workers' lives, the Hubos will be programmed to autonomously enter dangerous situations and save those in peril.

What does it mean for a robot to act autonomously? Essentially, it means they aren't controlled by humans and instead take their direction from software programmed by Drexel students and faculty.

In a disaster situation, autonomous Hubos could potentially sift through rubble to save lives. And a team of Drexel-led engineers put the Hubos to the test during the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge. During the challenge, robots assembled and programmed by various teams of engineers attempted to operate valves, open doors, climb ladders, and drive a vehicle.

That sounds like a lot for a Hubo to handle. But with Drexel engineers at the helm, we have a feeling these Hubos will have a big impact on disaster recovery efforts for a long time to come.

See the Hubos perform "Come Together" in this video on YouTube.