DARPA Robotics Challenge: Meet the 24 Finalists
The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals take place June 5-6 in Pomona, California. Meet the 24 robots vying for a $2 million top prize in the ultimate robot competition.
Twenty-four robots from across the world are gearing up for the ultimate robot competition as the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals are taking place June 5-6 at Fairplex in Pomona, California.
Teams from the China, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States will be competing for $3.5 million in prizes as they try to conquer a simulated disaster-response course. The winner will take home $2 million, with second place winning $1 million and third place $500,000.
There are eight total tasks for the robots worth one point each, according to the rule book. Each robot will have one hour to complete the course, but they won’t know what one of the tasks is until they step onto the course. Here are the obstacles standing in the way.
1. Drive the vehicle
2. Get out of the vehicle
3. Open door and travel through opening
4. Open valve (similar to one of the three valves in Trials)
5. Use a cutting tool to cut a hole in a wall (similar to one of the two tools and the wall in Trials)
6. Surprise manipulation task (not disclosed until Finals)
7. Traverse rubble - Either cross debris field (by moving the debris or traversing it) or negotiate irregular terrain
8. Climb stairs (fewer steps and less steep than in Trials)
For the challenge, the teams either created robots or developed software that will be used to control Boston Dynamics’ upgraded Atlas humanoid robot, which was funded in part by DARPA.
“A substantial fraction of them will have difficulty during the challenge. We do that on purpose,” says DRC program manager, Dr. Gill Pratt. “DARPA takes high risks for high rewards, and that means that we also have a lot of challenges that we expect our performers to have. So, the challenge is quite hard.”
During the competition, communication between the robots and humans will be deliberately degraded, so the robots need to operate with a high degree of autonomy instead of step-by-step remote control, making things much harder than previous versions of the competition.
The DRC Finals are the culmination of a three-year program to develop robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters. It was launched following the 2011 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011. The DRC Trials 2014 was dominated by a robot named Schaft, which was later scooped up by Google.
Editor’s Note: Originally 25 teams were competing in the DRC Finals, but Team Intelligent Pioneer withdrew, according to DARPA.