DARPA Robotics Challenge
John Hayes posted on July 26, 2013 |
Teams from universities and industry are building robots that will venture into disaster zones

The goal of the DARPA Robotics Challenge is to develop ground robots that can execute complex tasks in dangerous environments.

These are not your average pre-programmed robots that conduct repetitive tasks.  Instead these robots will be designed to handle disaster zones, which by definition will require a series of complex tasks that can't be programmed in advance.

The first step in the challenge is to create software that will advance the state of the art in enabling supervised autonomy, a function that will allows less skilled operators to control the robots.  That makes sense when you consider that first-responders to disaster sites are more likely to be trained in medical aid than in robot operations. 

26 teams from 8 countries responded to the original challenge.  The software design round was just completed and 7 teams have advanced to the next round of the competition, a round that will see them integrate their software advances with actual rather than simulated robot hardware.   The next stage of the challenge this December will involve physically performing simulated disaster response actions.

Qualifiers for the next round will receive funding to continue their research, leading to the ultimate DARPA robot throwdown in December 2014, where the winning team of the”end-to-end” disaster run will pocket $2 million. 

I wonder if DARPA could earn more than $2 million by selling the rights to a reality TV series.

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