October 25, 2012
DARPA Robotics Challenge Competitors Approaching The Start Line
|Over the next two years, teams will compete to develop and put to the test hardware and software designed to enable robots to assist humans in emergency response when a disaster strikes. Based on proposals submitted in response to a Broad Agency Announcement, DARPA has selected and will provide funding for seven teams in Track A of the DRC to develop new robotic systems containing both hardware and software and 11 teams in Track B to develop software only.|
Over the next two years, teams will compete to develop and put to the test hardware and software designed to enable robots to assist humans in emergency response when a disaster strikes. Based on proposals submitted in response to a Broad Agency Announcement, DARPA has selected and will provide funding for seven teams in Track A of the DRC to develop new robotic systems containing both hardware and software and 11 teams in Track B to develop software only.
Track A teams are busy building their own robots, which may end up being the most innovative part of the DRC. Seven teams will be taking part, and here's what they're working on:
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) – National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC)
CMU-NREC proposed to develop the CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform) robot for executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. CHIMP will have near-human form factor, work-envelope, strength and dexterity to work effectively in such environments, yet avoid the need for complex control by maintaining static rather than dynamic stability.
Drexel University’s design focuses on a mature, open-architecture, bipedal robot called Hubo. Each member on Drexel’s team will be equipped with a stock Hubo, a complete, full-sized humanoid. This infrastructure will catalyze a multi-university effort to “hit the ground running” and successfully address all anticipated DRC events in a “program-test-perfect” model.
Raytheon proposed to construct Guardian, a new, self-powered, lightweight, robust, dexterous humanoid robot that will build on the team’s experience with human-scale exoskeletons. The Guardian robot will expand its Exoskeleton (XOS) concept, introducing innovative technologies such as large range of motion, high specific torque/power actuators and a rapidly modulated fluid supply for overall power efficiency.
SCHAFT Inc. proposed a bipedal robot based on mature hardware and software designed for its existing HRP-2 robot. SCHAFT will create an Intelligent Robot Kernel in which it will combine the necessary software modules for recognition, planning, motion generation, motion control and a user interface. The group will divide into three teams to execute the tasks: hardware design, software integration and scenario testing.
NASA - Johnson Space Center
NASA Johnson Space Center proposed to develop a next-generation humanoid robot and control paradigm capable of performing dynamic, dexterous and perception-intensive tasks in a variety of scenarios. NASA JSC’s development approach will apply successful practices that have been used to develop multiple generations of Robonaut and related technologies in collaboration with academic, commercial and other government partners.
NASA - Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
NASA-JPL proposed to build RoboSimian, a simian-inspired, limbed robot that will use deliberate and stable operations to complete challenging tasks under supervised teleoperation. The team will employ design methods, system elements and software algorithms that have already been successfully demonstrated in JPL’s existing robots. RoboSimian will use its four general-purpose limbs and hands, capable of both mobility and manipulation, to achieve passively stable stances, create multi-point anchored connections to supports such as ladders, railings and stair treads, and brace itself during forceful manipulation operations.
After only one month of development, the Simulator is currently available in beta version 1.0 and will be improved throughout the coming months for DARPA by the Open Source Robotics Foundation. Over time, it will be increasingly populated with models of robots, perception sensors and field environments, and function as a cloud-based, real-time, operator-interactive virtual test bed that uses physics-based models of inertia, actuation, contact and environment dynamics. With the cooperation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Simulator will be rigorously validated, meaning users can confidently leverage it as a resource to test software.
The DRC Simulator will be the focus of the Track B (funded) and Track C (unfunded) teams, and whoever does the best will receive one of six ATLAS robots after the first virtual challenge event to continue on to compete with real hardware.
The Track B funded teams are as follows:
The Track B funded teams are as follows:
- -Lockheed Martin – Advanced Technology Laboratories
- -University of Kansas
- -Carnegie Mellon University
- -Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- -TRAC Labs
- -University of Washington
- -Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC)
- -Ben-Gurion University
- -NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- -TORC Robotics
“The DRC Simulator is going to be one of DARPA’s legacies to the robotics community,” said Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager for the DRC. “One of DARPA’s goals for the Challenge is to catalyze robotics development across all fields so that we as a community end up with more capable, more affordable robots that are easier to operate. The value of a cloud-based simulator is that it gives talent from any location a common space to train, design, test and collaborate on ideas without the need for expensive hardware and prototyping. That opens the door to innovation.”
“We’re very excited for and supportive of international participation in the DRC,” Pratt said. “Just as natural and man-made disasters are common worldwide challenges, what the response to the DRC has shown is that the international robotics community shares a common goal of advancing robotic technology to the point where it can have a tangible and positive impact on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Through the DRC, DARPA is providing the forum, tools and incentives to come together and take steps toward that goal.”
Registration is also underway for Track C of the Challenge that provides an opportunity for individuals and teams from around the world to compete without the need for hardware. Anyone with the skills to develop the software needed to advance core robotic software capabilities can register and participate using the open-source DRC Simulator.
Expertise in software for robotic perception, planning, control and human-robot interface, and experience in physics-based games, models and simulation, as well as open-source code, will all be useful. Participants also need to be motivated since the first DRC event, the Virtual Robotics Challenge, is scheduled to take place only eight months from now in June 2013, and a qualifying round is planned to be held in the Simulator in May. In both rounds, Track C teams would face off against Track B performers on an equal footing.
SOURCE DARPA, IEEE Spectrum
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Tags: Boston Dynamics, Darpa, DARPA Grand Challenge, DRC, Gill Pratt, pet-proto, petman, robotics, robotics challenge, robots
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