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At a racetrack in Florida this weekend, 16 robots competed to complete a series of tasks inspired by challenges faced in cleaning up the destroyed Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. Two of the companies involved in the DARPA contest—Boston Dynamics and Schaft—were recently acquired by Google, which has also bought at least six other robotics companies in recent months. James Kuffner, a research scientist at Google and a member of its new robotics team, spoke to MIT Technology Review’s news and analysis editor, Will Knight, on the sidelines of the event.

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