South Korean Team Takes $2 Million Top Prize At DARPA Robotics Challenge

Fastcompany: South Korean Team Takes $2 Million Top Prize At DARPA Robotics Challenge. DARPA wants to inspire the creation of robots capable of disaster recovery. But there’s a long way to go and a lot of work still to do.

Members of Team KAIST jumped up and down and grabbed each other in an emphatic embrace as their robot, known as DRC-Hubo, placed its second foot atop the platform. The official raised his arm in the air.

Mark it: eight points. In a dominating time of just a hair over 44 minutes. Although several leading teams still had yet to take the course, the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) looked like it was all but over.

And it was. By the end of the day Saturday, the second and last full day of the finals of a three-year-long search for a champion, Team KAIST, from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, had claimed the $2 million top prize and permanent rights to brag that it had bested worthy competitors from august institutions like Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and others across the world.

DARPA, the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, launched the competition after robots sent to help tackle the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan in the wake of that country’s horrific 2011 earthquake and tsunami were unable to alleviate mounting pressure inside the plant. The explosions that followed left the nearby area a radioactive “no-man’s land,” according to Gill Pratt, the DRC program manager, which “had a profound effect on many of us at DARPA.” Read the full article