Miami, Here We Come!

15-month effort is finally over.  The robot and support equipment were stuffed into our Command-and-Control trailer yesterday and left Drexel this morning.  It’ll arrive in Miami for the DRC trails December 16. In seven days DRC teams face-off in the Challenge Dec 20-21 at the Miami-Homestead Speedway.

DRC-Hubo packed in its crate

DRC-Hubo packed in its crate

How do I feel?  The closest feeling I can perhaps convey is the birth of one’s child, a wedding or graduation.  The time has come. One prepares the best he/she could and there comes a time when things are out of his/her control… the DRC will happen and the results will be what they are…

Drexel crew for Team DRC-Hubo (day before trailer goes to Miami)

Drexel crew for Team DRC-Hubo (day before trailer goes to Miami)

Where did 15-months go?  I still remember October 24, 2012, the day DRC kicked-off with the world-wide webcast introducing the teams.  I still remember June 12, 2013, the day of DARPA’s Critical Design Review (CDR); we learned shortly after that our team passed and the Track B/C teams that would receive the Boston Dynamics Atlas robot.  Everything after that was a blur.  There was DRC Day in Atlanta (October 18, 2013) and learning we passed Qualifications (October 31, 2013).  Our team had a Dry-Run November 21-22, 2013 and “rehearsed” what we envisioned would happen in Miami – and discovered we still had some work to do!

How will we do in Miami?  On one hand, I’d like to say we already succeeded.  Getting into this Challenge, being very public about our progress, and demonstrated capabilities are all huge.  To participate against “giants” like NASA, Lockheed-Martin, Schaft (a University of Tokyo spin-off company), CMU and MIT, is a success.  To be a part of this level of “game” is a success…

But at heart, it’s about winning… to be among the Top 8 teams that DARPA selects in Miami to continue to the Finals in December 2014.  I can imagine the “agony” that my students would feel if we don’t make the Top 8.  I don’t want them to feel their “labors to be in vain and efforts to be futile” (Psalm 127:1).

That said, Dry-Run showed us that we can score at least 1 point in each event in the allotted time-limit.  DRC-Hubo can drive the vehicle (1 point); walk over rough-terrain (1-2 points); clear debris (1-point), open doors (1-2 points), break walls (1-point), climb the ladder (2-3 points); turn valves (2-3 points) and handle fire hoses (1-2 points).  Thus on a “bad day”, out of a top score of 24, we can score 10-points. On a “good day”, we can score 15-points.

Dec 13, 2013: Trailer with DRC-Hubo and Support Equipment hitting the road to Miami

Dec 13, 2013: Trailer with DRC-Hubo and Support Equipment hitting the road to Miami

We’ll see… this baby/wedding/graduation is coming in 7-days!  Wish us success.


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About Paul Oh

I'm Paul Oh, a robotics professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and lead for team DRC-Hubo. I founded the Drexel Autonomous Systems Lab (DASL) in 2000 and serve as its director: DASL has participated in disaster response and worked with first responders to develop technologies since 2001.
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