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Robotics

Will the Headless Ape Robot Win the DARPA Challenge? 37

Posted by timothy
from the don't-make-robo-simian-angry dept.
New submitter pausz42 writes "The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Stanford University are promoting RoboSimian, a simian-inspired robot able to face environments which are hostile for men. In the DARPA Robotics Challenge the selected teams have to develop an autonomous robot able to get into a car, drive it to a disaster site and perform hazardous activities. While this prototype is the only one that that doesn't have a humanoid shape (and it's quite creepy, since it does not have a head), it seems that its three fingered limbs are better fitted for some of the difficult tasks required by the DARPA challenge."
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Will the Headless Ape Robot Win the DARPA Challenge?

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  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:11PM (#44664611) Homepage

    The competition [theroboticschallenge.org] is in December 2013, and this team may not be ready by then. Here are the other robots being entered. [ieee.org]

    The simulated challenge back in June revealed that the entrants' movement control software isn't very good yet. The winning team's simulated robot fell down 12 times. [theroboticschallenge.org] DARPA has posted only heavily censored videos [theroboticschallenge.org] of the results, possibly because they're so embarrassingly bad.

    Some of the blame attaches to the simulator used. The Gazebo simulator's physics engine, which is borrowed from video games, is not good enough for the job. Video game simulators use tricks that look OK, but aren't physically realistic. That's no good when you're using them to match a real robot, or even if you're doing control based on reported forces from the simulator. This should be fixed in early 2014 when they get an honest physics engine from Mike Sherman, who knows what he's doing. (If you need a accurate humanoid robot simulator right now, try OpenHRP3 [openrtp.jp], from AIST in Japan.)

    I suspect that the December 2013 event, which will be public, will be rather disappointing. But the planned 2014 event may be very impressive.

    That's how it went with 2004 DARPA Grand Challenge for automatic driving, which was so pathetic it was covered by the Comedy Channel. Then in 2005, all the robot vehicles at the event could drive autonomously without running into anything and several finished the whole course with good times. The second day of the 2005 Grand Challenge was the moment when automatic driving became real to the world.

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.

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