At the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials 2013, 16 teams competed in eight tasks for a chance to advance to the finals, where they would have a chance to win a $2 million grand prize. Team SCHAFT and its bipedal robot won the trials handily, earning 27 points, while NASA's Valkyrie robot failed to score any points in the trial.
For the trials, 17 teams were scheduled to compete, but Team Intelligent Pioneer, from China, canceled a few days before the event. The 16 teams were selected through four different tracks: Track A teams received funding by DARPA to develop hardware and software; Track B teams received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop software and were given an ATLAS robot; Track C teams were independently funded but later received DARPA funding for software development and used an ATLAS robot; Track D teams did not receive any funding from DARPA and developed hardware and software.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge was held at the Homestead Miami Speedway, located in Florida, and the track was transformed to a disaster area. According to DARPA, the main goal of the DRC is to develop robots that can work in dangerous environments; the tasks simulate potential situations and challenges that would be encountered during a disaster. The robots compete in such tasks as attaching and turning on a hose, shutting off valves, cleaning up debris, drilling through walls and climbing a ladder. A total of 32 points could be earned, 3 points for completing the primary objectives in each task and a bonus point for completing the entire task without human intervention.
Team SCHAFT competed with a bipedal robot that was based on its HRP-2 robot and earned 27 points over the weekend. The SCHAFT robot earned "best in task" in four tasks: terrain, ladder, debris and hose, reports Gizmodo.
IHMC Robotics developed software for an ATLAS robot, a humanoid robot developed by Boston Dynamics that finished in second place with 20 points. Carnegie Mellon University's CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform, CHIMP, robot finished in third place with 18 points. The MIT-controlled ATLAS robot finished in fourth place (16 points) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's RoboSimian finished in fifth place (14 points).
According to DARPA, up to eight teams could advance to the 2014 finals, earning another $1 million in funding, and would compete for the $2 million grand prize. Three teams controlling ATLAS robots, TRACLabs, WRECS and Trooper rounded out the top eight, earning 11, 11 and 9 points, respectively.
Prior to DRC, Google announced it purchased SCHAFT as well as Boston Dynamics. Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android Inc., will serve as head of the search giant's robotics mission, reports New York Times.
Videos of the DARPA Robotics Challenge 2013 can be viewed below.
Day 1 Wrap Up:
Day 2 Wrap Up:
DRC 2013 Task Playlist:
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.