The DARPA Robotics Challenge was first started in 2012 in an effort to make human controlled robots which are able to perform just like humans in dangerous situations where it is not possible to send humans.
Gill Pratt, program manager for the contest, said Thursday (March 5) in a news conference, “We are trying to make robots and human beings work together. Robots are very good at working in dangerous environments, while humans are very good at making judgment calls.”
In a prelude to the Robotics Finals, 16 teams’ rubbed shoulders in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, held in December 2013. The conditions became tougher and tougher as the teams progressed up the ladder and the finals required the robots to be untethered. In other words the robots should be capable of maintaining their balance and recover from a fall adding a new level of difficulty. The robots should also have its own autonomous source of power in the form of battery.
Pratt said, “Usually, communications get very poor during disasters, both because the infrastructure becomes degraded and because emergency responders are all trying to use it at the same time.”
The organizers will try their best to mimic a disaster situation by intentionally degrade the communications links between the robots and their human controllers. The robots will have to be semiautonomous and capable of acting on their own in certain situation.
The teams included 11 from US, 5 from Japan, 3 each from Germany, South Korea and entries from Italy, Hong Kong and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Gill Pratt, Darpa’s program manager for the robot contest further added, “The diverse participation indicates not only a general interest in robotics, but also the priority many governments are placing on furthering robotic technology.”
In a nutshell, Darpa’s mission is to promote high-risk, high-reward ventures, and robots which could think and act autonomously.