How close are we to developing a humanoid robotic assistant? We all know technology is advancing at an exponential rate, but how and when will androids become a common part of our daily lives. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is taking the first step towards this harmonic view of humans and humanoid robots working together. On 21 DEC 2013, as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, the DRC Trials were held at the Homestead Miami Speedway. The trials let teams from around the world test their robots’ capabilities on 8 individual, physical tasks that focused on rescue operations. The teams which participated were made up from the private sector and international universities. DARPA does not want to limit any particular domain from the competition and provides different levels of funding and even a the hardware in the form of the ATLAS. The ATLAS is a humanoid, hydraulically powered robot acquired from Boston Dynamics, it will allow certain teams with limited resources to focus just on software. DARPA’s goal is to develop a robot capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. As a secondary goal DARPA seeks to standardize and advance the development of robot systems, hence making these systems more available and lowering acquisition costs. DARPA will declare success when these robots can be called upon to assist during major disasters such as earthquakes or industrial accidents. The Trials main focus is on robot mobility, manipulation, and dexterity. At the trials, 8 Teams qualified for funding to compete in the 2014 DRC Finals(date TBD). The DRC Finals winner will secure a prize of $2 million.
Check out some cool pics right here: