South Korea wins DARPA robotics challenge

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By Larry Banks

A robotics team from South Korea has won the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The contest is the ultimate battle of robots over an obstacle course which is meant to simulate conditions akin to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

South Korea humanoid robot wins

The South Korean effort was spearheaded by team Kaist, which entered its DRC-Hubo robot, defeating 22 others to win the top $2m price from the US Department of Defense’s DARPA research division.

Each robot had 1 hour in which it had to complete several tasks, such as driving a car and walking up steps. The challenges had to be completed autonomously, but there was intermittent connectivity with the operators to simulate real disaster conditions.

The challenge itself was the first in which robots had to perform without being tethered and there were lots of falls, with groans and laughter from the crowds attending the contest, which took place in Pomona, California.

Team Kaist Robot
Image: Getty.

Tasks the robots were given included getting out of a car and opening a door, drilling a hole in a wall, turning a valve and also crossing rubble by clearing a path or by walking over it.

Team Kaist was the fastest, with every task completed in just 44 minutes and 28 seconds.

In second place was Team IHMC Robotics which came in second with a million dollar prize, and Tartan Rescue’s Chimp robot in third place, which won $500,000.

The contest also feature two mystery tasks over two days. The first was pulling a lever and on the second day it was pulling a plug from a socket and inserting into another.

Each team was allowed two attempts to complete the course. There were supposed to be 25 teams competing, but unfortunately Japan’s team Hydra dropped out at the last minute due to an electronics accident in training. And a Chinese team was expected to compete but could not acquire their visas in time.


Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos