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Japanese Team Dominates Competition to Create Generation of Rescue Robots

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The Schaft robot.

The Schaft robot dominated DARPA's Robotics Challenge 2013 Trials on Friday and Saturday.

Credit: SCHAFT Inc.

The Schaft robot, developed by a group of Japanese researchers, dominated the U.S. Pentagon's Defense Advance Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Robotics Challenge 2013 Trials on Friday and Saturday. The robot completed the eight required tasks in the international challenge almost flawlessly, losing points only because the wind blew a door out of the robot's grasp and because it was not able to climb out of a vehicle after it successfully navigated an obstacle course.

The Schaft team is one of eight of the 16 participating teams that was selected to move on in the competition and become eligible for a $1-million prize to help them prepare for the final event next year, which offers a $2-million prize. The DARPA challenge aims to create a generation of mobile robots that will aid in disaster situations, traveling and working where humans cannot.

After the Schaft robot, robots from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory rounded out the top five. Participants said the event marked a watershed in the evolution of robot technology.

"This was a Woodstock for robots," says Boston Dynamics' Marc Raibert.

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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