Friday, December 27, 2013

Google robots dominate DARPA competition

Two robot-makers recently acquired by Google dominated the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, held Dec. 20-21 in Homestead, Fla. The competition is a lead-up to the DRC Finals, which will be held sometime in the next 12 to 18 months.
The purpose of the competition is to advance the development of robots that can aid in disasters such as the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan in 2011. The contest is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Robots at last week’s event had to drive a vehicle, walk over rough terrain, climb a ladder, remove debris, open a door, cut through a wall, close three types of valves, and carry and connect a fire hose. Sixteen teams took part in the robotics trials.
Schaft, a spin-out of the University of Tokyo that was acquired by Google in recent months, won the contest with 27 out of a possible 32 points, MIT Technology Review reported.
The teams that came in second and fourth used a humanoid robot called Atlas, built by another Google-owned company, Boston Dynamics. Those teams from IHMC and MIT, respectively, developed software to run the robots. The third-place team was from Carnegie Mellon University.
The eight teams with the highest scores will receive up to $1 million in funding to prepare for the final round, where a winner will get $2 million.

Related articles: 

Japanese Team Dominates Competition to Create Generation of Rescue Robots (New York Times; Dec. 22, 2013)

Google’s Schaft robot wins Darpa rescue challenge. (BBC; Dec. 23, 2013)

Photos from DARPA: The S-One robot from Schaft raises its arms in victory after successfully climbing an industrial ladder at the DRC Trials (top); Ian, an Atlas robot with IHMC Robotics, successfully cuts a hole in a wall.

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