DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) 2015 is soon approaching. On June 5-6, twenty-five teams from the United States and abroad will have their robots compete in a series of tasks assigned by the U.S. Defense Advanced Project Agency (DARPA). The required tasks represent actions that are necessary in real-world disaster scenarios. DARPA defines them as “the most hazardous activities in disaster zones.” Teams had to demonstrate beforehand, through video, that their robots could successfully negotiate an off/on switch, rotate a valve 360 degrees, negotiate rugged terrain without falling, and other skills first responders employ on the scene of a disaster. Challenge participants will compete for prizes. First-place prize is $2 million, second-place prize is $1 million, and third-place prize is $500,000.
One of the competitors in this year’s Challenge will be ATRIAS, designed and built at Oregon State University’s (OSU) Dynamic Robotics Lab. The robot is one of three of the biped ATRIAS robots created at the facility. Two of them are at the sites of OSU’s collaborators, one at the University of Michigan and the other at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. The ATRIAS project is funded by DARPA’s M3 program (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uswiqPbFLZ0) and the Human Frontier Science Program (http://www.hfsp.org/).
ATRIAS, according to OSU, “is designed for untethered, 3D walking and running over unpredictable, rough terrain while maintaining a reasonably high energy economy.” Electric motors drive ATRIAS’ joints and large-capacity, deep-cycle truck batteries and wires support the robot. It is physically disconnected from any external electrical equipment. Additional information on this robot is at http://mime.oregonstate.edu/research/…
The development team sought to make ATRIAS as close to a simple spring-mass system as possible. Jonathan Hurst of OSU is the principal investigator in the ARIAS project; collaborators are Hartmut Geyer, Carnegie Mellon University, and Jessy Grizzle, University of Michigan. The team’s ultimate goal is to make ATRIAS walk, negotiate obstacles, and run in the outdoors. ATRIAS will get to display its skills and abilities at the DRC in June.
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MARY JANE DITTMAR is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelorâÂÂs degree in English/journalism and a masterâÂÂs degree in communication arts.