Robot competition reveals rise of the machines not imminent
23 December 2013 Last updated at 18:00 GMT
A black, shiny human form clings to a tall ladder, just one rung from the top. But it loses its balance, and the audience gasps as the falling robot swings from a safety rope.
This futuristic drama played out all day at the Darpa robotics challenge in the US state of Florida.
Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the branch of the US Department of Defense charged with creating new technology for the military, hosted the event, which was designed to test robots' abilities in disaster relief scenarios.
Teams from MIT, Nasa, and South Korea's Rainbow Robot were among those who competed in eight tasks from climbing a ladder to screwing a hose into a fire hydrant. The Google-owned Schaft robot won this stage.
BBC News went to Miami to find out whether the rise of the machines is imminent.
Produced for the BBC by Leigh Paterson.
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