The DRC is a competition of robot systems and software teams vying to develop robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters. The winner gets $2 million. It is sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and is fodder for the global roboticist community eager for a glimpse of breakthrough technologies.
Teams have been tasked to develop the hardware, software, sensors, and human-machine control interfaces that will enable their robots to complete a series of extremely difficult tasks selected by DARPA for their relevance to disaster response.
Three sequential DRC events test the hardware and software:
- the Virtual Robotics Challenge, which occurred in June 2013, tested software teams’ ability to effectively guide a simulated robot through three sample tasks in a virtual environment;
- the DRC Trials occuring December 20-21, 2013 in Florida, is where teams attempt to guide their robots through eight individual, physical tasks that test mobility, manipulation, dexterity, perception, and operator control mechanisms;
- the DRC Finals will occur at the end of 2014 and will require robots to attempt a circuit of consecutive physical tasks, with degraded communications between the robots and their operators; the winning team will receive a $2 million prize.
The team list comprises robotics groups from around the U.S. and from Korea, China, Japan and Hong Kong, and the Florida DRC trials can be viewed online at http://www.theroboticschallenge.org/
For local color, the NY Times is onsite and reported this article and also this one.
From Reuters: Eight teams were chosen to move on to next year's finals. They move slowly and fall down a lot but believe it or not, these are some of the most advanced robots in the world. A two day robotics challenge in Miami Florida pitted the worlds best robots against each other- competing in tasks designed to help humans in natural or man-made disasters. Tasks like opening doors… or climbing up stairs. Things that may seem simple, but that for a two-legged robot using sensors and cameras to negotiate its environment, are extremely difficult. People take for granted how we comply to a mechanism or to our environment and just adapt to it in real time. A robot is really cutting edge to be able to do that, to balance to move out of the way when your model in your head of the environment doesn't quite match the physical reality.
The eight winning teams each get $1 million to proceed to the final challenge in late 2014.
Here are the winning teams arranged by points scored: SCHAFT, IHMC Robotics, Tartan Rescue, MIT, RoboSimian, Team TRACLabs, WRECS, and TROOPER.
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