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Most Advanced Robots In The World Compete In Performance Challenge

posted 21 Dec 2013, 06:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Dec 2013, 06:26 ]

Robot makers showcase their top humanoids at the start of a fierce two-day competition.

MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 20, 2013) (REUTERS) - The world's most sophisticated robots took center stage on Friday (December 20) at the opening of the DARPA Robotics Challenge competition in Miami, Florida.

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Seventeen robot makers teams from the United StatesChinaJapan and Koreaare participating in the two day trials designed to crown the best performing robot in tasks related to disaster response in the quickest time and with the least human intervention possible.

DARPA's Challenge was created shortly after the Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster in 2011 where high radiation levels showed the human response to the disaster.

"The eight tasks we are addressing here have derived from disasters like Fukoshima but also from other disasters. In Fukoshima specifically, in the first 24 hours, if someone could have went in, the whole escalation of nuclear catastrophe could have been prevented. But no humans could have entered because of the high radioactivity," said Oskar Von Stryk, a professor of Systems Optimization andRobotics Group and a leader of the VIGIR team.

The trials at Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway involve basic tasks for humans but complicated maneuvers when robots are asked to do them. Teams are given a specific block of time for their robots to complete tasks like opening and walking through doors, walking on difficult terrain, connecting hoses and turning valves wheels and driving a car.

"Imagine that in the future these kind of robot technologies becoming available. Maybe in ten or fifteen years, the future fire fighter brigades would have a truck and in their truck they would have a robot. They could send a robot in when it's dangerous for them to look out for the scene, look for victims. What's the situation there and then they could truly help the firefighters save their lives and save other lives," Von Stryk said.

NASA's Robonaut was also part of the competition and team lead, Kimberly Hambuchen, said she was happy with Friday's outcome even though her team suffered several setbacks.

"We were able to create this humanoid robot that can go into places where humans can go. If humans can go there, this robot can go there and that's good for, not only this competition where we want to put the robot into a disaster response situation, but also for NASA, in general, because we send humans into outer space and we would like to be able to send robots that don't need any specialization," Hambuchen said.

Robert Ambrose, chief of the Software Robotics and Simulation Division at NASA, said that while the goal is for robots to perform complicated tasks that would endanger humans or in difficult environments, there are many other jobs less desirable to humans that future robots could take over in the home.

"People won't have to do some of the worst jobs. Just imagine the worst jobs in the world and then that's what these robots should be going after. For 20 or 30 years, I've asked people if you had a robot what would you have it do for you? When I ask children that, they say two things, they say do my homework and clean my room. When I ask adults, they just say clean. I guess adults don't have to do any homework anymore, but they just say clean. So you won't be surprised, on the international space station guess what we have Robonaut doing? A lot of chores.," Ambrose said.

The event is open to the public and DARPA Organizers said they hope it will help audiences to gain understanding of the current state of robotics and the potential they offer to assist mankind in the future.