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DARPA Awards Simulation Software Contract to Open Source Robotics Foundation

Last week, DARPA officially announced its Robotics Challenge for disaster robots. According to the program, teams that don't want (or can't afford) to build their own robots will be able to prove themselves using a standardized simulation environment (and later may receive a real robot to use in the competition). Now we got official confirmation that this standardized simulation environment will be based on the Gazebo simulator, one the primary tools used in the ROS community, and will be provided by the Open Source Robotics Foundation. Huh? Open Source Robotics Foundation?

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RoboCops Now Guarding South Korean Prisons

The next time you find yourself in a South Korean prison (and don't worry, it happens to the best of us), this not especially friendly looking robot is going to be either your new best buddy or your new worst enemy. But probably the latter.

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Stanford Robot Block Party Has PR2s, SPHERES, More (Photos)

If you couldn't make it to the Robot Block Party at Stanford on Wednesday, you should probably take a minute and seriously re-examine your life goals. And after you've done that, head on past the break to check out our gallery of pictures from the event, which ought to give you a fairly good idea of all the robot fun that you missed out on.

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DARPA Selects Boston Dynamics' Humanoid for Robotics Challenge (UPDATED)

UPDATE 13 April 2012, 12:02 p.m. A notice posted on the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website confirms that DARPA has selected Boston Dynamics as a "sole source" to develop and build the humanoid robots that the software teams will use in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. "Of the few existing humanoid robots," the notice says, "[Boston Dynamics] was deemed to be the sole viable supplier for providing the necessary robotic platform capability within the specified timeframe." Boston Dynamics will build 8 identical humanoids, which will be based on PETMAN (see below an exclusive photo we obtained) and Atlas, robots that the firm build for the U.S. Army and DARPA, respectively. The result is expected to be "a one of a kind humanoid robot with state of the art capability."

Just as we were getting ready to put together a big long post speculating on which humanoid platform DARPA would select for their newest Robotics Challenge, a video posted yesterday to the official DARPA YouTube channel has made all of that completely unnecessary: to the surprise of nobody, it's going to be a derivative of Boston Dynamics' PETMAN/ATLAS humanoid robot.

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DARPA Robotics Challenge: Interview With Gill Pratt

Gill PrattThe U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced yesterday an ambitious robotics program aiming to revolutionize disaster response robots. The DARPA Robotics Challenge is the brainchild of DARPA program manager Dr. Gill Pratt, a researcher and educator with numerous inventions to his credit.* We spoke with Dr. Pratt about the goals of the new effort and how it could change robotics in a big way.

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Can't Make It to RoboGames? Help Fund This Documentary

Here's the one terrible thing about RoboGames: it takes place here in California, and only in California. Don't get me wrong, this is great for me personally (since I happen to live here), but for the rest of you, you'll either have to come to terms with the fact that the West Coast really is where everything exciting happens and move out here already, or kick in some money and get a professionally produced Blu-ray and experience the event vicariously.

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DARPA Robotics Challenge: Here Are the Official Details

DARPA robotics challenge disaster reponse robots
Illustration of a disaster response scenario part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge: The robot on the right uses a power tool to break through a wall, and the one on the left turns a valve to close a leaking pipe. Image: DARPA

DARPA to the robotics community: the challenge is on.

Today the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is announcing a bold new program aiming to advance robotics technology for disaster response. The DARPA Robotics Challenge is offering tens of million of dollars in funding to teams from anywhere in the world to build robots capable of performing complex mobility and manipulation tasks such as walking over rubble and operating power tools. It all will culminate with an audacious competition with robots driving trucks, breaking through walls, and attempting to perform repairs in a simulated industrial-disaster setting. The winner takes all: a $2 million cash prize.

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IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
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Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
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Evan Ackerman
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