United States defense research organization Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is conducting Robotics Challenge where 25 robots will compete with each other. NASA’s RoboSimian robot that can map its environment in 3D has also qualified for the challenge.
The aim of the robotic challenge is to create a mechanical “first responder,” an idea that popped up after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011. The challenge will bring out the intelligent machine that is capable of entering high-risk areas and disaster zones. Official Brad Tousley stated that there is a lot of fiction out there that robots are much more capable than they really are.
“But part of DARPA’s job is to show the possibilities, and what we can start to do,” said Tousley.
RoboSimian, a gangly armed robot, nicknamed “Clyde” has been developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The robot has the ability to cross rough-terrain and use hand-like manipulators. JPL officials stated that the robot stands out as it can perform tasks using extreme dexterity. Clyde uses LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) that allows the robot to sketch out its environment. In December, RoboSimian was chosen over JPL’s Surrogate as it was considered as an “all-around solution.”
The winner will get a $2 million prize, and each research team gets only once chance to display the robot skills. If a robot falls, it can get up on its own, but the team is awarded with a 10-minute penalty if human assistance is needed.
The contest is being held as a part of three-year effort to encourage development of robots to help during disasters. The DARPA challenge is open to the public, and 70 other groups including JPL will reveal information on how they help with disaster response. The second and final round of the challenge will come to an end tomorrow.