Automaton iconAutomaton

DARPA Robotics Challenge: A Compilation of Robots Falling Down

On Thursday, the day before the competition was to officially start, DARPA allowed the teams to conduct a dress rehearsal, putting their robots through the course to see how they’d do. During that dry run, not many robots fell over, so we went into Day 1 of the Finals thinking that falls would be rare. They weren’t. Lots of robots fell over, and a bunch of robots fell over multiple times. As much as nobody wanted to see a robot fall, everybody wanted to see a robot fall, and the possibility of falls (and reality of falls) kept everyone watching on the edge of our seats.

Read More

DRC Finals: CMU’s CHIMP Gets Up After Fall, Shows How Awesome Robots Can Be

The first day of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals was spectacular. We’re going to have lots more for you tonight and tomorrow, but we wanted to get you this video right away. A bunch of robots fell during runs today, and in every case, humans rushed in with a gantry and hoisted the robot back up again. This is what the rules allow, but the spirit of the competition is really looking for robots that can operate independently in disaster areas without human assistance. We’re likely to see more attempts at robots getting themselves up tomorrow (as it’s the last competition day and there isn’t as much to lose), but during today’s run, CMU’s CHIMP robot showed everybody what a resilient disaster robot should be able to do. And it was amazing.

Read More

How to Watch the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals Online

The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals kick off today with an opening ceremony at 7 a.m. PDT. The actual competition starts right after that at 8 a.m. Four teams will run their robots on four separate courses simultaneously. It’s going to be crazy, and you definitely want to drop whatever it is that you’re doing and watch what promises to be the most amazing robotics event ever. DARPA has lots of cameras around, so here’s how you can watch the event online:

Live Streaming:

Go to the DRC website—on the home page DARPA offers five feeds: the Main Event and four separate feeds, one for each course.    

A live streaming service called CuriosityStream will also have live feeds and some exclusive behind the scenes content.

The DRC App:

The DRC app on iTunes or Android store doesn’t offer a live stream, but it has the full schedule of the competition and an updated score board.


Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day, and check back on the blog for a long highlights post at the end of the day.

Welcome to the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

We’ve just arrived at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in Pomona, Calif. It’s the day before the Finals starts, and the Expo is setting up, teams are testing robots, and DARPA is making sure that the courses are ready to go. We’ll have a detailed post on the rules and course this evening, but the first thing we did was snap the pic above to give you a look at what it’s going to be like. Our first reaction? The overall course is shorter than we expected, and only as challenging as it needs to be: robots will have a real chance at getting through these tasks successfully, and that’s awesome.

Read More

DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals: Know Your Robots

With 24 teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, it’s easy to lose track of things. Which team has the white ATLAS that is not IHMC or WPI-CMU? How many teams are from Germany? What’s the name of that Japanese robot that looks like a spaghetti of wires?

Confused already? Don’t worry, here’s something we made with our bare hands to make your life (and ours) easier: All of the DRC teams and their robots—along with some helpful specs—in one single handy poster-size image. Print it, read it, memorize it and you’ll be ready to watch the Finals.

The actual competition will happen on Friday and Saturday, but Evan and I will be posting stories and videos starting tomorrow (Thursday). Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates, and if you’re coming to Pomona, we’ll see you there!

Read More

WALK-MAN Team Built Brand New, Highly Custom Robot for DRC Finals

While some DRC teams received fancy ATLAS robots from DARPA and other teams decided to adapt existing platforms (HUBO and HRP-2, for example) to compete in the Finals, some groups set out to build completely new robots. One of these is Team WALK-MAN from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), whose most recent robotic creations include HyQ and COMAN. Before departing to the DRC Finals site in Pomona, Calif., Nikos Tsagarakis, a senior researcher at IIT and WALK-MAN Project Coordinator, spoke with us about his team’s highly customized robot, its mains capabilities, and how it compares to ATLAS.

Read More

Pre-DRC Finals Video Post: What to Expect from the World's Most Sophisticated Robots

We’ve been collecting DARPA Robotics Challenge-related videos for the last several months, and this post is an attempt to put a bunch of them together in a way that showcases the current state of the robots of the DRC Finals just before the competition starts. Looking through these will show you how capable many of the teams are right now (or within a few weeks or so), providing a metric for where your expectations should be for the competition itself. Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But as you watch, these videos will give you an idea of what’s fast, what’s slow, what robots seem to be doing well, and what robots seem to be doing amazing.

Note that these videos are at least a week or two out of date, and they’re totally biased towards teams that have been, you know, actually posting videos on YouTube, so there might be robots that are doing equally well but you won’t see them here. Nonetheless, this is the best cross-section of pre-event capabilites we’ve got, and it should give you a pretty good sense of what to expect when the Finals kick off on Friday. 

Read More

Lockheed Martin's Team TROOPER Sets Expectations for DRC Finals

With the DRC Finals kicking off this week, competing teams have been practicing hard to get their robots ready for competition. A few weeks ago, we visited Team TROOPER at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories (or more accurately, a nameless and windowless building in an office park somewhere near Philadelphia) to see how they’ve been preparing for the DRC Finals, and what we came back with should give you a good sense of what to expect.

Read More

Soft Actuators Go From Squishy to Stiff (and Back Again)

Soft actuators are appealing for robotics because they’re cheap (made out of plastics or polymers and air), inherent compliant and relatively safe for humans to interact with, and able to adapt themselves to grip a wide range of objects. Being soft does tend to make them by definition bad at being hard, so for those times when you need an actuator with some stiffness, well, that’s just too bad.

Or is it?

Researchers at Technische Universitat Berlin led by Professor Oliver Brock have combined soft pneumatic actuators with a jamming system that results in a variable-stiffness actuator that’s soft when you want and hard when you want.

Read More
Advertisement

Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
 
Contributor
Jason Falconer
Canada
Contributor
Angelica Lim
Tokyo, Japan
 

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Automaton newsletter and get biweekly updates about robotics, automation, and AI, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Advertisement
Load More