Gerard LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Back on December 20-21, 2013, at the Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida, 16 teams from around the world submitted robots in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. This challenge was created to observe the state of robotics and their potential use in disaster response.
The eight highest scoring teams will receive continued funding from the government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to enable them to compete in the Robotics Final. Other unfunded teams will also compete in the final for a $2 million prize.
In the challenge, the robots were given tasks to perform, like opening doors or climbing ladders, to test if one day robots could aide in emergencies from natural or man-made disasters.
DARPA created this challenge following the March 11, 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan. That disaster was a key factor in the development of the challenge, which is meant for teams to develop robots that could work in dangerous environments where it may be unsafe for humans to venture.
The challenge at the Miami Speedway featured the robots competing in a variety of tasks with four maximum points per task. Each task was divided into parts depending on the number of sub-tasks involved. Teams were awarded four points if the robot completed a task without direct human intervention, and completed each task within the 30 minute time limit.
While most of the entries were two legged robots and resembled humanoids, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s entry, named RoboSimian, has four legs, allowing for more maneuverability over rough terrain. Also known as “Clyde,” the robot finished fifth overall in the competition and will receive continued funding from DARPA to compete in the Robotics Finals in late 2014.