South Korea’s Team Kaist has won the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) two-day robotic challenge finals held at Fairplex, Pomona, California, US.
The team, a partnership between the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Humanoid Robot Research Center and Rainbow, had offered DRC-Hubo for the $3.5m competition.
An advanced version of HUmanoid roBOt (HUBO) developed since 2002, DRC-Hubo has more powerful joints, and can also transform from a standing position, used for biped walking, to a kneeling pose that is meant for wheeled and fast motion.
A total of 23 teams participated in the DARPA Robotic Challenge (DRC), which was launched in response to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.
The DRC aims to streamline the development of robots that could be deployed to areas deemed too dangerous for humans, to mitigate the impacts of natural or man-made disasters.
The participating robots had to complete a difficult course of tasks such as driving alone, walking through rubble, climbing stairs and turning valves, tripping circuit breakers, as well as using a tool to cut a hole in a wall.
Each team had two tries at the course, and best performance and times were used as official scores.
Team Kaist bagged the first spot and won $2m in prize money, while Team IHMC Robotics and its robot Running Man, and Tartan Rescue with its robot CHIMP, finished second and third, earning $1m and $500,000, respectively.
As all three winners had final scores of eight points, they were arrayed from first to third place according to least time on the course.
DARPA director Arati Prabhakar said: "This is the end of the DARPA Robotics Challenge but only the beginning of a future in which robots can work alongside people to reduce the toll of disasters."
The outdoor competition featured a dozen US teams and 11 from Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Image: Team Kaist’s robot DRC-Hubo uses a tool to cut a hole in a wall during the DRC Finals in Pomona, California, US. Photo: courtesy of DARPA.