Humans, Robots Interact at Robotics Challenge

Team Kaist’s robot DRC-Hubo uses a tool to cut a hole in a wall during the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, June 5-6, 2015, in Pomona, Calif. Team Kaist won the top prize at the competition. DARPA photo

Team Kaist’s robot DRC-Hubo uses a tool to cut a hole in a wall during the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, June 5-6, 2015, in Pomona, Calif. Team Kaist won the top prize at the competition. DARPA photo

A robot from South Korea took first prize and two American robots took second and third prizes last week in the two-day robotic challenge finals held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Twenty-three human-robot teams participating in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, or DRC, finals competed for $3.5 million in prizes, working to get through eight tasks in an hour, under their own onboard power and with severely degraded communications between robot and operator.

A dozen U.S. teams and 11 from Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong competed in the outdoor competition.

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DARPA launched the DRC in response to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 and the need for help to save lives in the toxic environment there.

The DRC’s goal was to accelerate progress in robotics so robots more quickly can gain the dexterity and robustness they need to enter areas too dangerous for people and mitigate disaster impacts.

Robot tasks were relevant to disaster response — driving alone, walking through rubble, tripping circuit breakers, using a tool to cut a hole in a wall, turning valves and climbing stairs.

DARPA program manager and DRC organizer Gill Pratt congratulated the 23 participating teams and thanked them for helping open a new era of human-robot partnerships.

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Defense

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