The rough and tumble nature of the real world, and especially disaster zones, has been a bit too much for our robot friends. Most robots are designed to work in tightly controlled laboratory and factory settings. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is hoping that their upcoming challenge will kickstart the rescue segment of the robotics field.
There are 25 teams participating in the final challenge, but the trials have made quite a splash in the field. The challengers have already participated in a virtual test, showing off their software. In December of 2013, the competitors underwent a physical trial, thinning the herd. And now, with a $2 million prize at stake, the finals are scheduled to begin on June 5 in California.
Robots participating in the finals will need to undergo a series of challenges illustrated here:
Momaro is NimbRo’s addition to this very competitive field.1 Originating at the University of Bonn, Momaro is another non-humanoid looking bot competing for DARPA’s top spot.
Unlike last week’s star of our ongoing series, NASA’s RoboSimian, Momaro has rugged wheels at the end of his four legs and his two adult sized arms end in gripping “hands”.
Its weird upper body can rotate completely independently from the box-like structure supporting its legs.
Momaro’s secret weapon may be less in physique and more in its intelligence, in addition to 4 different cameras set a different angles, Momaro has a continuously rotating 3D laser scanner, which kind of makes it look a little like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
You can see Momaro in action in this video from the 2013 trial run:
Either way, Momaro appears to be kicking butt over at the DARPA test bed. Check out what Momaro did to this drywall:
Momaro looks like quite the contender!
We’re totally divided about who to put our pretend money on in June. Maybe our next profile will break the tie!
If NimbRo sounds familiar to some of you, it may be because they have won the Humanoid TeenSize class of the international RoboCup 5 times. Oh perhaps you weren’t aware of the RoboCup, in which robots play soccer? Well, stay tuned for our coverage of this great event in July. ↩