At the University of California, San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute, students are building innovative robots that can be used for military applications and in daily life.
For the U.S. military, those robots can be lifesaving when troops are faced with the unknown on the battleground.
"The last hundred meters is where we have the most casualties because of snipers, because of booby traps, because of some people that are hiding in buildings," said Henrik Christensen, Ph.D., Director of UC San Diego's Contextual Robotics Institute.
Having flying and walking autonomous robots to provide intelligence for troops preparing to enter a building can have significant impact on the outcome, Christensen added.
"You take away some of their stress and we give them the situational awareness," he said.
Dylan Drotman, a student in the program, is working on a six-legged robot he built in the lab with a 3-D printer using soft flexible material.
“It will be able to walk a larger range of types of terrain,” Drotman said.
He told NBC 7, he will be interning with SPAWAR this summer.
There are other robotics that will add a new dimension to virtual reality, including a robotic glove which gives a user the sensation they are actually doing a certain action, such as playing the piano.
That type of technology could also be useful in military training and gaming.
Christensen said he is also a big proponent in making robotic technology affordable because he feels it should one day be available to everyone.
He told NBC 7, currently, students are also developing autonomous robots that will provide medicine, food and physical assistance to the elderly.
“So that they can have still a very high quality of life," Christensen added.
He said San Diego is an ideal place for this development to take shape.
Many defense and technology companies benefit from the research and development at the UC San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute and are eager to hire the students coming up with next generation ideas, he told NBC 7.
“There are very few places where you have strong companies, strong end-users and the strong economy,” Christensen said.