How to Watch the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals Online

Not in Pomona? No problem. Here's how to watch a live stream of the competition

1 min read
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.

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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