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South Korean team surges past rivals to win DARPA bot battle

Sharon Gaudin | June 8, 2015
24 teams from around the world showcased their disaster response robots over two days.

The finals for the robotics challenge took place on Friday and Saturday, with each of the 24 teams running through the course on both days; their best times and point totals were then used to decide the winner.

On Friday, the Carnegie Mellon team was the only one to get all eight points, making it the early leader. That team, though, ran into early trouble in its final run when the robot drove past its mark and into a barrier. That mistake slowed the robot, dubbed Chimp, enough to keep it from holding onto the top position.

Other teams has their own troubles on Saturday. JPL's four-legged Robosimian robot, which came in fifth place, was moving well through the course until it dropped a plug it was trying to move into a socket. It then stopped moving just as it got to the stairs, the last task on the course.

The robotics team from MIT had tough luck on both days. On Friday, its robot fell getting out of the car and broke an arm. Despite the damage, it completed the course (and won 7 points) in enough time to leave it in fourth place after the first day.

On Saturday, it looked like MIT's robot might be the only one that could overtake Team Kaist. But then the MIT robot fell again, dashing MIT's chances.

WPI's team also had some hard luck. In seventh place at the end of the day on Friday, its robot "Warner"had just started driving down the course when it came to a stop. A problem with the car derailed the robot's first attempt at the run.

The team had to push the car back off the course, switch the robot to another car, recalibrate and start over.

Once it got started again, Warner got its drill stuck in a wall and then dropped the tool. It finished the rest of the course but was unable to get the full eight points because of the drill problem.

"We were hoping for eight points and we had a good shot at it," said Mike Gennert, director of WPI's robotics engineering program. "It just wasn't meant to be."

WPI finished in seventh place at the end of the competition.

 

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