Virginia Tech's Team THOR will compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge with its Tactical Hazardous Operations Robot. (Virginia Tech)
Seventeen teams have qualified to participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge trials Dec. 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.
The teams and their robots will face a scenario where they must handle disaster response, with tests of autonomous perception, autonomous decision-making, mounted and dismounted mobility, dexterity and strength.
“During the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, which drove creation of the [DARPA Robotics Challenge], the simple act of turning a valve and venting hydrogen in the reactor buildings might have prevented catastrophe,” DARPA said in a news release. “However, that single capability is not enough for an effective disaster response robot. Disasters are unpredictable in their manifestation and effects, so the type of robots DARPA envisions to aid in these situations must be adaptable.”
In earlier pre-qualification trials, the robots had to climb over a small barrier, walk through an open doorway, rotate a valve 360 degrees, and be able to come to a complete emergency stop. The robotic finals for the contest will be held next year.