Feeds

Boffins build robo-CHIMP for DARPA challenge

Four hands, four tracks, and big iron inside

High performance access to file storage

The latest entrant to DARPA's $2m Robotics Challenge is a four-limbed robot with near-human strength and the dexterity to climb ladders or use tools.

CHIMP robot

Don't try and feed it a banana

The CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform (CHIMP) from Carnegie Mellon University uses mounted tracks on each triple-jointed limb to move like a tank over roads and rough ground, but can rise up onto two tracks to use the triple-fingered manipulators to climb up ladders, remove debris, or even turn a steering wheel.

"In a pinch, it can do anything," said Tony Stentz, director of the university's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and team leader of the Tartan Rescue Team, which is building CHIMP.

"Humans provide high-level control, while the robot provides low-level reflexes and self-protective behaviors. This enables CHIMP to be highly capable without the complexity associated with a fully autonomous robot."

The Robotics Challenge calls for a robot that could handle a situation like the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. Robotic entrants for the $2m prize must be able to operate without a power line or wired connection, enter and clear a rubble-strewn area, climb a human-size ladder, traverse a walkway and operate valves and tools.

CHIMP ladder

Robot to the rescue

That takes a lot of processing power – not to mention some fairly heavy-duty materials engineering. Stentz helped program the driving system for the Curiosity Mars rover, and is a specialist in using incremental algorithms and heuristic search to speed up decision-making.

The CHIMP uses what processing power it has for balance, collision avoidance, and navigation, and can be operated standing up on two tracks leaving the other two limbs available for clearing rubble or operating tools. This does take more processing power for balance, however, so it cuts down on the robot's run time.

The design has been accepted into the top group of Robotics Challenge entrants, and the first round of tests – which are purely software based – take place in June, with the finished robot competing physical tasks in December. If no one wins, a second round will take place in December 2014.

At stake is $2m in prize money – but more importantly, a lot of industry funding to follow. DARPA's challenges to build an autonomous vehicle saw the winning teams being snapped up by Google and other car manufacturers eager to use their ideas. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.