Jun 01, 2010 I Micah Hanks

Eve of the Android: “Octavia” Assists Americans in Battle

In what many in technological circles describe as one of the greatest feats in the creation of autonomous robots and man-made androids that assist humans, the US Navy has unleashed it's own variation on a secret weapon it calls "the soldier of the future."

Named "Octavia" and sporting a futuristic white color scheme reminiscent of Macintosh computers, the android is described as being more human-like than previous robotic assistants in military and other field operations.

The automaton relies on a unique system of "smart software" consisting of "computational cognitive models," making Octavia capable of communicating not only with words, but through gestures and facial expressions the US Navy hopes will make it far more easy for humans to interpret and interact with her effectively. This technology is collectively referred to as MDS robots, or mobile, dexterous, and social robots.

This, of course, will prove most crucial in life-or-death situations taking place in field operations, where at present only the most well-trained human mind could be relied upon for carrying out sensitive operations. Octavia, however, is described as being designed to "think" more like a human to aid in this process, with hopes she can be tasked with surveying dangerous areas prior to entry by groups of people, disarming bombs, and performing other sensitive--and dangerous--tasks by analyzing, learning, and even thinking.

Although from the waist up Octavia closely resembles a person (minus her cotton-white plastic exterior and protuberant "alien eyes"), her lower extremities consist of a Segway, the popular two-wheel devices used for travel in urban areas, with the addition of "training wheels" to prevent falling, according to Dr. Greg Trafton, who heads the Intelligent Systems Section at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

In spite of her advanced capabilities, thus far Octavia isn't renowned as a conversationalist. Aside from the ability to describe various functions about how she performs and operates, Octavia's vocabulary is limited due to advances needed in her language software that will enable her to properly interact and converse with others... er, other humans, that is. Well, humans, and not... other... androids. Yet, at least! In the meantime, below is a video featuring what the proposed MDS android (in this instance named "Nexi") will act like:

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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