Republic of Korea, U.S. take top spots at DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals


By Nancy Bartels

Jun 17, 2015

Team Kaist of Daejeon, Republic of Korea, and its robot DRC-Hubo took first prize and $2 million in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals held in Pomona, California, the first weekend in June.

Coming in second and taking home $1 million is Team IHMC Robotics of Pensacola, Florida, and its robot RunningMan. The third place finisher, earning the $500,000 prize, is Tartan Rescue of Pittsburgh, and its robot CHIMP.

Launched in response to a humanitarian need during the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, the DARPA Robotics Challenge consisted of three increasingly demanding competitions over two years. The goal of the project was to accelerate progress in robotics and be a catalyst for the development of robots with sufficient dexterity and robustness to enter areas too dangerous for humans, such as areas contaminated by radiation or made unstable by earthquakes.

In the final two days of trials, the 23 participating teams and their robots had to complete a list of eight tasks they might encounter if they were deployed for rescue operations. The tasks included driving alone, walking through rubble, tripping circuit breakers, turning valves and climbing stairs.

A dozen teams from the United States and another eleven from Japan, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong competed in the outdoor competition.

"This is the end of the DARPA Robotics Challenge but only the beginning of a future in which robots can work alongside people to reduce the toll of disasters," said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar. "I am so proud of all the teams that participated and know that the community that the DRC has helped to catalyze will do great things in the years ahead."

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