Robots Are Invading Homestead

Dec 20, 2013

Yong Lin works on RoboSimian, the entry of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs, before the Robotics Challenge Trials begin at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The qualifying trials for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge start Friday. The robot races are sponsored by the Pentagon’s research unit.

Teams of engineers from all over the world are vying for a chance to compete for a $2 million prize. But sponsors hope much more will come of the event.

Here’s the challenge: Create a robot that can walk on rocky terrain, open doors, remove debris, close a valve. Basically, do all the things a first responder would do.

The competition — and the $2 million prize — are meant to encourage development of robots that can help humans during a natural or manmade disaster. It’s sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the Pentagon’s research and development wing.

Organizers from DARPA say the challenge is a direct response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown.

Seventeen teams of robots qualified for the trials. They have names like Thor, Valkyrie, Chiron and Buddy. Up to eight of those teams will receive DARPA funding to compete in the finals next year.

For more details, visit Watch a live stream of the trials below.