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Researcher finds redemption, possible hotel deal after robotics challenge

Sharon Gaudin | June 18, 2015
A professor not only found redemption at the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge earlier this month, he might have found his robot a job at a Las Vegas hotel.

The comeback

At the DARPA Robotics Challenge, the UNLV team earned six out of eight potential points in the finals.

UNLV's robot fell but was still able to complete most of the tasks, which included opening and walking through a door, turning a valve and driving a car.

The goal of the challenge was to encourage the development of robots that could one day be used in disaster response. The robots would go into buildings, shut down systems, look for damage and find victims -- eliminating the need to send human rescue teams into dangerous areas.

While Oh and his UNLV team came in eighth, Oh's cousin, Jun-Ho Oh of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), won the challenge.

The cousins were both using Hubo robots, which they had designed and built together when they both worked at Drexel. Both later moved on to other institutions.

Jun-Ho Oh and the Kaist team earned a perfect eight points and beat Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), which came in second, and Team Tartan Rescue from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which placed third.

The top three teams scored eight points but their rankings were based on how fast they were able to complete the course.

Paul said a win for his cousin was a win for him, as well.

"His first place finish has my fingerprints on it," Oh said. "In 2013, we were arm-in-arm and we saw our biggest nightmare unfold with our robot falling down and fumble after fumble. We both had that sting of disappointment. We both thought that chapter was over, but we both moved on."

Moving on was a testament to their determination.

"I just love a Cinderella story," said Oh. "I think it's inspiration for a lot of people... You don't look at these disappointments and let them paralyze you. Continue to do the good fight and believe in yourself. Learn from the disappointment and do better."


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