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Here’s What Humanoid Bots Will be Doing in DARPA’s Robotics Challenge

DARPA has announced the final list of tasks that humanoid robots will be expected to autonomously perform in the agency's Robotics Challenge later this year. The competition pits robots against one another in a timed gauntlet of simple actions like opening a door or getting over rough terrain, which the bots must do without any instruction or interference by the teams. A rules documentreleased late last week contains a concise list of this year's eight tasks — they're described only in outline to prevent robots from specializing too much, and one isn't described at all.

Robots will be expected to do the following, in order:

  • Drive a vehicle
  • Exit the vehicle
  • Open a door and enter the doorway
  • Operate a valve with a circular handle between 4 and 16 inches across
  • Cut a hole in a wall at a marked location
  • "Surprise manipulation task"
  • Traverse rough terrain, either by clearing or navigating debris
  • Climb a stairway with a railing on the left side

That's all. No indication is given, for instance, how many steps will be taken, how many spins the valve handle will need, or how long the debris field will be. Teams will have to prepare for any realistic situation, though things probably won't deviate that far from 2013's competition or failure will be inevitable. More details from the rulebook are highlighted by IEEE Spectrum.

The finals will be held June 5-6 in Pomona, California. Want to see the bots up close and personal? Go right ahead — the Challenge is open to the public.

Researchers Throw Dodgeballs At This Robot For Science 0:37

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—Devin Coldewey