Your Friday robot fix: the final DARPA Robotics Challenge

click to enlargeThey’re Still Puppets! The final DARPA Robotics Challenge took place last week at the Fairplex racetrack in Pomona, California. 10,000 spectators viewed 24 teams’ robots going through their disaster-response paces to win a share of $3.5 million in prize money in this final stage of the DARPA three-year program. Many of the robots were custom, but several teams fielded adaptations of the Boston Dynamics Atlas robot as a common platform. The engineering teams were sequestered in a ‘garage’ offsite and linked to their robot charges by a deliberately degraded communication system (to simulate field conditions). The robots had no cords (unlike 2013) and were given eight tasks: driving a car down a dirt road, getting out of the car, opening a door and entering a building, turning a valve, cutting a hole in a wall with a drill, completing a surprise task (flipping a switch or unplugging a tube and plugging it into another hole), navigating a pile of rubble, and walking up a short flight of stairs. At this point, according to program director Gill Pratt, their competence is ‘brittle or narrow’ and they have difficulty adapting; the competing robots stumbled, fell, were puzzled when thrown a curve ball of a task. The winners: South Korea’s KAIST team with DRC-Hubo beat IHMC‘s Running Man by six minutes; Carnegie Mellon’s CHIMP took third. Much more in Gizmag (emphasizing behind the scenes), The Verge

More on the DARPA Robotics Challenge in TTA since 2013 here.

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