Team KAIST of South Korea Wins DARPA Robotics Challenge

By Myraine Policarpio , Jun 08, 2015 07:34 PM EDT

South Korea's humanoid robot, DRC-HUBO, defeated 22 international teams and won $2m in the recent robotics challenge of U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), held on Friday, June 5, 2015 at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. Being the fastest, Team Kaist's DRC-Hubo robot semi-autonomously finished the obstacle course and succeeded the rescue mission in 44 minutes and 28 seconds.

DARPA Robotics Challenge involves a series of activities like climbing stairs, breaching a door, driving a car, drilling a hole in a wall, controlling a device, pulling a lever, and crossing debris-filled terrains.

Creating technological breakthroughs for national security, DARPA initiated this two-day competition to exhibit the battle of robots that were expected to perform and complete given tasks in one hour. This contest highlights international teams, 12 from the United States and 11 from Italy, Germany, Japan, Hongkong, and South Korea, giving rise to humanoids that are expected to successfully respond harmful nuclear disaster conditions.

Dr. Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager and the robotics challenge organizer explained in his statement that they no longer allowed the use of power cords; each automaton must keep all the energy on board using batteries. "It is, in my estimation, 10 times harder than before," he said. "And we used to have a fibre optic cable that connected the robot to the operator, and we modulated the connection's quality to give a little bit of difficulty," Dr. Pratt added.

Team Kaist's humanoid robot, DRC-HUBO, is the most powerful version among other HUBO series that weighs 176 pounds and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall. This automaton's unique features include walking in bipedal mode with its stronger hands to handle multiple tasks in a disaster situation, transforming from a standing position, and striking a kneeling pose that is meant for wheeled and fast motion.

The Winning Teams

Team Kaist's DRC-Hubo bagged the first, winning $2 million, Team IHMC's Running Man grabbed the second at $1 million, and Tartan Rescue's CHIMP came in third at $500,000.

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