Images: DARPA Robotics Challenge
An engineer with Team Schaft holds a tether connected to the robot, as the machine tries to open a weighted door.
Team Wrecs' two-legged, humanoid robot.
Team KAIST's robot tries to close three different valves during one of the tasks on Dec. 20, 2013.
Team Schaft's robot retrieves a hose and tries to connect it to the wall during one of the tasks on Dec. 20, 2013.
Team Mojavaton's four-legged robot tries to walk over ramps and pies of rubble, as part of the terrain challenge.
The engineers behind Team Wrecs pose with their robot on Dec. 20, 2013.
Team HKU's two-legged, humanoid robot tries to walk over different types of terrain.
This next-generation humanoid robot, dubbed Valkyrie (Val), is being developed by NASA Johnson Space Center to perform dynamic, dexterous and perception-intensive tasks in a variety of scenarios, according to DARPA. Val is 6 foot 2 inches tall (1.9 meters) and sports a glowing NASA logo on its chest.
"We really wanted to design the appearance of this robot to be one that when you saw it you were going to be like, 'Wow, that's awesome," the team leader for Valkyrie, Nicolaus Radford told IEEE Spectrum in a video about the robot. "It's a 44 degree of freedom robot, very capable, very strong, completely self contained. We have a two kilowatt hour battery, lots of onboard computing."
A Japanese team with SCHAFT Inc. is building a bipedal robot that will stand 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) tall and weigh about 210 pounds (95 kg); the bot is based on hardware and software designed for its existing HRP-2 robot. SCHAFT will create an Intelligent Robot Kernel in which it will combine the necessary software modules for recognition, planning, motion generation, motion control and a user interface. The group will divide into three teams to execute the tasks: hardware design, software integration and scenario testing, according to DARPA.
The Hubo is Drexel University's bipedal robot, which will stand 55 inches (140 centimeters) tall and weigh some 132 lbs. (60 kg). The team has created seven full-sized Hubos, one for each team member. "This infrastructure will catalyze a multi-university effort to 'hit the ground running' and successfully address all anticipated DRC events in a 'program-test-perfect' model," according to DARPA's website.
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Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
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