The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced it is extending preparation time for the final round of its DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) by six months. DARPA director Gill Pratt says the agency was impressed by the results of the first round of physical trials held last December and decided to increase the scope and difficulty of the next set of trials.
The DRC was created in 2012 with the goal of producing robots that could be remotely operated to carry out disaster relief tasks in situations that would be hazardous to human workers. The initial trials required the robots to complete eight tasks common in disaster relief and allowed the robots to be plugged into external power sources and directed through wired connections.
Pratt says the next round will now be much harder; robots must be operated wirelessly and using only internal power, and communications will be randomly disrupted. All eight tasks, plus a surprise secret task, also will have to be performed in sequence within one hour, whereas teams previously had 30 minutes to perform each task individually.
About 24 U.S. and international teams are expected to compete in the final round of the DRC, which will be held June 5-6, 2015, in Pomona, CA.
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