Carlsbad software writer 5D Robotics Inc. received a $100,000 U.S. Army contract to develop an autonomous robot that can interact with humans.

Builders hope that their robot, called Minotaur, will react to visual and gestured commands from its teammates, and be sophisticated enough to work beside first-responders and soldiers.

Minotaur will be a bi-coastal effort. 5D Robotics will provide the software that lets the robot autonomously follow its teammates through complex environments while avoiding collision with people or objects.

Partner Charles River Analytics Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., will provide the vision-based tracking and gesture recognition technology.

Minotaur stands for Multinodal Interface for Natural Operator Teaming with Autonomous Robot.

The project is in the initial phase of what could be a three-phase government award. The Army’s Tardec unit awarded the deal under the Small Business Innovation Research program. Tardec stands for Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

5D Robotics’ CEO, David Rowe, said Minotaur may one day have commercial applications.

— SDBJ Staff Report