Oh, DARPA. You’re the best when it comes to ground-breaking new robot stuff!
DARPA’s Robotics Challenge (DRC) was designed to motivate teams to develop disaster-mitigation and recovery robots — a particularly important development given recent concern about robots doing just the opposite.
Effective disaster response robots require not only the hardware that allows them to maneuver in thorny situations, but also the software that allows them to communicate with human operators, manipulate tools, and navigate and interact with their surroundings. In the DRC’s first event, the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC), which took place from Jun 17-21, 2013, teams designed and applied their software to a simulated robot. The VRC’s cloud-based competition tested teams’ abilities to guide the simulated robot through a series of challenging tasks, including driving a utility vehicle, maintaining balance and control while navigating difficult terrain, and attaching and turning on a fire hose.