Rescue robots go head-to-head in competition

An unidentified LS 3 team member shoves an LS 3 (Legged Squad Support System) robot that was galloping off course, back on track during a high-speed demonstration in Homestead, Fla., Dec. 20, 2013. The device is designed to accompany soldiers and Marines any place they go on foot, helping to carry their gear. Andrew Innerarity / Reuters

An international Robotics Challenge Trials hosted in Homestead, Fla., this weekend and organized by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is meant to spur the development of robots that can respond to natural and man-made disasters. The competition was created following the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. After the disaster, the Pentagon sent robots designed to disarm bombs in Iraq to try to help fix problems at the destroyed reactor in areas highly contaminated by radiation where humans could not work. The trials put prototype robots from 17 teams through a series of simple tasks, such as opening doors or walking a short distance. 

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Chris Roberts, left, and Robert Hung prepare their robot from team HKU, the University of Hong Kong, for a challenge during the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Dec. 21, 2013 in Homestead, Fla. Joe Raedle / Getty Images