Korean team wins DARPA robotics competition

A robot developed by a team of Korean researchers has won first prize in the DARPA (US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency) robotics challenge, which was held this weekend in California.

The competition, which began over two years ago has seen a number of robots from around the world compete against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their ability to respond to disasters.


During a two-day long final in Pomona, California, 24 robots went head-to-head in front of thousands of spectators and attempted to complete a course of eight tasks relevant to disaster response.

These included driving and exiting a car, opening a door, closing a valve, using a power tool to cut a hole in a wall, clearing debris, turning off a switch and climbing stairs.

The winning entry, Team Kaist from South Korea, took home $2m of prize money for its DRC-HUBO (Humanoid RoBOt), which performed all eight tasks more quickly than any of the other entries. (It took just 44 minutes, 28 seconds)

The second place prize of $1m went to team IHMC from the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, FL and its robot Running Man, which is based on Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot.

Whilst most of the robots competing were walking humanoid robots, third place went to a machine with tank-like rolling treads developed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), in Pennsylvania. 

CHIMP robot
CHIMP robot

Dubbed CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform), the robot is roughly the size of a human, an inch short of 5 feet when it’s standing and almost 3 feet when it’s crawling. Weighing in at 443 pounds and boasting 4.3 feet long arms, the robot is able to operate for 90 minutes with its battery pack.

The robotic challenge was launched in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster as part of an effort to accelerate the development of robots able to operate in areas considered too dangerous for human beings.