Feeds

Who's the best-built bot that makes the US military hot? SCHAFT!

Can you dig it? Google-backed boffins bag DARPA robot contest prize

High performance access to file storage

Video A Japanese robotics company now owned by Google has won the first stage of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which is trying to find a new generation of mechanoids to keep fleshy humans safe from harm.

Youtube video of the SCHAFT robot

The first of the challenge trials were held in Florida over the weekend and saw humanoid robots attempt eight tasks: driving a vehicle past obstacles, walking over rubble, climbing a ladder, clearing debris, opening a door, cutting through a wall, opening and closing a valve and killing Sarah Conner operating a fire hose.

The winning robot, a custom-built machine dubbed SCHAFT, came from the Japanese robotics firm of the same name which was recently bought by Google as part of its ten-year plan to mechanize the home and workplace. SCHAFT won four categories (crossing rubble, climbing ladders, clearing debris and using a hose) and scored well in other categories.

The second-placed system came from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), which used one of the more generic ATLAS robots developed for the competition by Boston Dynamics (now also owned by Google). Carnegie Mellon University's Team Tartan Rescue was third with its four-handed CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform (CHIMP) design.

There was bad news in the competition for NASA, however. Its Valkyrie robot, custom designed with a glowing Iron Man-style chest piece and a pair of pseudo-breasts, scored no points, along with two other teams.

Before you start having nightmares about humanoid robots waging war against the mankind, the challenges showed that there's still a long way to go. The robots were typically tethered to a power supply and moved with glacial speed, often taking over a minute to decide on an action.

"The robots we see today are the robots of science fact, not science fiction," said Gill Pratt, the DARPA program manager for the competition. "They'll be slow, and they will often fail. But we hope today's modest progress will be a good next step to help save mankind from disasters."

The Robotics Challenge finals will be held this time next year, at which point DARPA is looking for a better performance and faster response times. The winning team will get a $2m prize (and presumably some lucrative job offers), with the runners-up receiving $1m and $750,000 for second and third respectively. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
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.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
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.