DARPA Robotics Challenge Winner: Rescue Robot Created By Japanese Company Owned by Google [VIDEO]

By Rhonda J. Miller on December 26, 2013 10:15 AM EST

Rescue Robot From Schaft Tops DARPA Competition
rescue robot (Photo: DARPA / Rhonda J. Miller)

A rescue robot created by a team from Japan outpaced the competition with its performance in driving a car, opening a door, climbing a ladder, walking across uneven terrain, connecting a hose, and other catastrophe-related tasks in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, Robotics Challenge trials. The Team Schaft robot took top honors among the 16 entries in the DARPA competition held Dec. 21 and 22 in Homestead, Fla., Popular Science reported. 

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The 209-pound bipedal robot created by Schaft earned 27 points out of a possible 32, beating out its nearest competitor IHMC Robotics by seven points. Carnegie Mellon University's CHIMP robot came in third with 18 points and MIT's Atlas robot finished fourth with 16 points, according to Digital Trends.

The Robotics Challenges trials event is "one of the biggest robotics evaluations on Earth and dwarfs many military robot tests, both in scale of ambition and the actual effort involved," according to Adam Jacoff, a robotics research engineer with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology who helped design and develop the eight tasks the robots faced in the competition, Digital Trends reported.

The DARPA competition is intended to speed up the development of rescue robots that can be used in the event of natural or man-made disasters. The robotics challenge is part of DARPA's mission. The agency was formed in 1958 to "prevent strategic surprise from negatively impacting U.S. national security, and to create strategic surprise for U.S. adversaries by maintaining technological superiority of the U.S. military," according to the DARPA website.

The winning robot's creator, Toyko-based Schaft, was recently acquired by Google, which has been taking an increasing interest in robotics, this year buying at least eight companies operating in the field, though it has said little about its long-term robotics-based plans, according to Digital TrendsGoogle confirmed a week before the robotics challenge that it had bought the Schaft team, along with Boston Dynamics, the company that built the Atlas robots with which seven of the teams competed, Gizmodo reported.

Others robot competitor rankings, according to Gizmodo, included NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's RoboSimian with 14 points for fifth place, TRACLabs and the Worcester Polytechnic team WRECS tied for sixth place with 11 points each, and the Lockheed Martin-funded team TROOPER with nine points. The eight top finishers are eligible to receive $1 million in DARPA funding to continue polishing up their robots for next year's finals,Gizmodo reported.

The video of the DARPA competition below, from Digital Trends, shows the disaster-related tasks the robots had to perform.

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