The Google-owned Japanese robotics company SCHAFT has won the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials by a wide margin. It scored 27 out of 32 points, beating its nearest competitor IHMC Robotics by seven points. Coming up third was Tartan rescue with 18 points, and MIT following that with 16 points.
The contest took place Dec. 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, where 16 teams from around the world did their best to guide their robots through a series of tasks. The robots were to be programmed in such a way that they could be guided by simple commands issued by a non-expert, e.g., "Open the door" or "Clear away the debris in front of you."
The object of the challenge, DARPA says, was to create a robot that could stand in for humans in disaster and emergency zones. In all, eight tasks were included: drive a vehicle; walk across rubble; remove debris; open a door and walk through it; climb a ladder and cross an industrial walkway; break a concrete panel with a tool made for humans; find and close a valve; and connect a fire hose to a pipe and open the valve.
The SCHAFT entry is a 216-pound robot based on the company's preexisting HRP-2 model. It is bipedal and stands 4.8 feet tall with a 4.3-foot wingspan. Business Insider says the SCHAFT robot is "ten times stronger than any other" in the DRC Trials.
Check out the SCHAFT robot performing the eight DRC Trials tasks in the sped-up video below. The tasks were actually performed at a much lower speed, as was the case for all of the robots in the competition. The suspension cables you see are for saving the robot in case of a fall; it is actually self-supporting and self-propelled.
The DRC Trials are the last stop along the way before next year's DRC Finals, where qualified robots will compete for DARPA's grand prize of $2 million. The Finals are to take place in December 2014.