It’s the gathering place for leading robotics researchers. It’s the breeding ground for next-gen robotics innovations. It’s the one place on this planet that you will see seven ALTAS robots in one location running a course. It’s the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials happening December 20-21, 2013 in Homestead, Florida, and we’ll be there to share a behind-the-scenes look as the field of robotics transforms before your eyes!

The DARPA Robotics Challenge

The goal of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is to stimulate advanced technology that can be used by the military. The DRC is a competition of robot systems and software teams vying to develop human-scaled robotics for humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions.  This challenge is extremely difficult and garners some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world and requires teams to collaborate and innovate on a tight timeline with hardware, software, sensors, and human-machine control interfaces so their robots can complete a series of hard-core disaster response tasks set out by DARPA.

With four tracks to enable different levels of participation (from full systems to software only) DRC holds three main events: The Virtual Robotics Challenge (June 2013), the DRC Trials (December 2013) and the DRC Finals (late 2014). The technology that is yielded from participants of these events will not only change the field of robotics, they’ll catapult future development of task-level autonomy. The winning team of the DARPA Robotics Challenge will receive a $2 million prize.

Teams to watch at DRC Trials!

Carnegie Mellon's CHIMP

Carnegie Mellon’s CHIMP
5 feet, 2 inches, 400 lbs

In June 2013, teams were selected and divided into four tracks. For Track A, teams received continued funding to compete in one of two physical demonstrations, the first happening this month. Keep an eye on our blog as we follow the six initial teams at DRC Trails and report on their achievements made throughout the 2 day competition. Track A teams include:

RoboSimian from RoboSimiam, NASA Jet Propulsion Labs
CHIMP from Tartan Rescue, Carnegie Mellon University-NREC
DRC HUBO from Team Drexel, Drexel University
VALKYRIE from Team NASA JSC from the NASA Johnson Space Center
HRP-2 based biped from Team SCHAFT, SCHAFT Inc.
THOR-OP from Team THO, Virginia Tech

The virtual teams get real

Atlas

Atlas

Track B and C teams competed in the software-only Virtual Robotics Challenge. Eleven were selected to run in Track B and received initial funding from DARPA to further develop their software, while the remainder did not receive funding. In June, the teams from both tracks competed against one another for a chance at additional funding and the assignment of a Government furnished ATLAS robot to be used in the DRC Trials. Winning teams that received an ATLAS include IHMC Robotics, Team HKU, Team MIT, Team TRACLabs, Team TROOPER, Team ViGIR, and Team WRECS.

Botsmiths with serious skills

Track D is a completely non-funded option for teams developing their own hardware and software who want to compete at DRC Trials. These stand-alone teams can’t be taken for granted as they’ve got serious skills in software and complex systems, and they’ve had to build their own platform. The four teams who will be featured at DRC Trials are Chiron, Intelligent Pioneer, Team KAIST, and Team Mojavaton.

Need we say more?

This is the event we’ve been waiting for that will cause mass ripple effects in our industry. Stay tuned for more updates as we keep you posted on this amazing challenge! And if you’re in Homestead, Florida, stop by and say hello; after all, it’s free to attend!

Check out the Day 1 Recap here
Check out the Day 2 Recap here

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