You might recall seeing the video of
Boston Dynamics' "Big
Dog" robot that is part of a
Robotic Challenge (DRC) project developing
battlefield automatons capable of carrying heavy loads at a swift
pace over rugged terrain. Their newest humaniod, called "Pet-Proto,"
is enough to give you nightmares. Add a few lowpass filters on the
joint mechanics and this boy would look like it came straight out of
the Transformers or Terminator movies. One big hurdle that has to be
overcome is the power source. Big Dog has an internal combustion
engine driving a hydraulic pump (electronics probably work on
batteries), and this Pet-Proto dude has hydraulic lines from an
external supply. The robots are capable of autonomous decision
making and are guided and motivated by GPS, LIDAR, ground sendors,
gyroscopes, and other supersophisticated devices.
"PETMAN is an
anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing. "
This story was retrieved from the DARPA website. Neither DARPA nor any other entity
represented in the article endorses this website.
The Department of Defense's
strategic plan calls for the Joint Force to conduct humanitarian,
disaster relief and related operations. The plan identifies
requirements to extend aid to victims of natural or man-made
disasters and conduct evacuation operations. Some disasters,
however, due to grave risks to the health and wellbeing of rescue
and aid workers, prove too great in scale or scope for timely and
effective human response. The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC)
will attempt to address this capability gap by promoting innovation
in robotic technology for disaster-response operations.
The Department of
Defense's strategic plan calls for the Joint Force to conduct
humanitarian, disaster relief and related operations. The plan
identifies requirements to extend aid to victims of natural or
man-made disasters and conduct evacuation operations. Some
disasters, however, due to grave risks to the health and wellbeing
of rescue and aid workers, prove too great in scale or scope for
timely and effective human response. The DARPA Robotics
Challenge (DRC) will attempt to address this capability gap by
promoting innovation in robotic technology for disaster-response
The primary technical goal of the DRC is to develop
ground robots capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous,
degraded, human-engineered environments. Competitors in the DRC are
expected to focus on robots that can use standard tools and
equipment commonly available in human environments, ranging from
hand tools to vehicles, with an emphasis on adaptability to tools
with diverse specifications.
To achieve its goal, the DRC aims
to advance the current state of the art in the enabling technologies
of supervised autonomy in perception and decision-making, mounted
and dismounted mobility, dexterity, strength, and platform
endurance. Success with supervised autonomy, in particular, could
allow control of robots by non-expert operators, lower the
operator's workload, and allow effective operation even with
low-fidelity (low bandwidth, high latency, intermittent)
The DRC consists of both robotics hardware and
software development tasks and is structured to increase the
diversity of innovative solutions by encouraging participation from
around the world, including universities, small, medium and large
businesses, and even individuals and groups with ideas on how to
advance the field of robotics. Detailed descriptions of the
participant tracks are available in the
DRC Broad Agency Announcement.
A secondary goal of the DRC
is to make software and hardware development for ground-robot
systems more accessible to interested contributors, thereby lowering
the cost of acquisition while increasing capabilities. DARPA
seeks to accomplish this by creating and providing
government-furnished equipment (GFE) to some DRC participants in the
form of a robotic hardware platform with arms, legs, torso and head.
Availability of this platform will allow teams without hardware
expertise or hardware to participate. Additionally, all teams
will have access to a government-furnished simulator created by
DARPA and populated with models of robots, robot components and
field environments. The simulator will be an open-source,
real-time, operator-interactive virtual test bed, and the accuracy
of the models used in it will be rigorously validated on a physical
test bed. DARPA hopes the creation of a widely available,
validated, affordable, and community supported and enhanced virtual
test environment will play a catalytic role in development of
robotics technology, allowing new hardware and software designs to
be evaluated without the need for physical prototyping.
Broad Agency Announcement was released on April 10, 2012.
DRC kicked off on October 24, 2012, and is scheduled to run for
approximately 27 months with three planned competitions, one virtual
followed by two live. Events are planned for June 2013, December
2013 and December 2014
Posted November 18, 2012
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