Let the DARPA Site Visits Begin! Watch out Track A teams…

DARPA began their site visits of Track A teams a couple of weeks ago.  DARPA arrived at our lab at Drexel on February 19th.   Pins and needles could only describe our feelings preparing, rehearsing and giving the best “show-and-tell” ever! Site visits are anxious moments. DARPA wants to see REAL stuff working – not hear PowerPoint talks!

Site Visit Results: I’m happy to say DARPA is pleased!  We gave 4 live demos of Hubo entering the vehicle, opening a door, turning a valve and attaching a hose (i.e. Events 1, 4, 7 and 8).  See photo below:

Hubo doing Event 1 (top left), Event 4 (top right), Event 7 (bottom left) and Event 8 (bottom right)

Our team mates at Ohio State (OSU), Purdue and Georgia Tech (GT) continue to amaze us with what they have accomplished in their events.  DARPA saw their videos of OSU-Hubo walking over rough-terrain, Purdue-Hubo climbing a ladder and GT-Hubo breaking a wall.  All in all, DARPA looked happy with our progress and our plans moving forward.

We Even Published: To my best knowledge, we’re the only team already demonstrating these events.  So, we wrote technical papers on each event, which were peer-reviewed and accepted for publication (yippee!) in the 2013 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TEPRA).  Each paper details our approach to all 8 events, illustrates simulations and discusses the experimental results.  We expect that IEEE will publish are papers in late April.  Once they are published, visit us again to see videos and more photos.

Why Publish? You may wonder why we are publishing.  Wouldn’t such disclosure tip off our competitors and undermine our chances for the $2M prize?  Perhaps this is true.  But moreover, we are a team composed of universities.  Universities exist to create, archive, and disseminate knowledge – for the greater good.  This is done through both teaching and research, in classrooms and labs. Our team believes that advancing the state-of-the-art of disaster-response robots demands an open review and scientific verification and validation by the robotics expert community.   Our belief in the “greater good” compels us to publish – and together with those beyond our team, help advance robotics.

Let the Site Visits Begin!

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Paul Oh

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: http://dasl.mem.drexel.edu. DASL has participated in disaster response and worked with first responders to develop technologies since 2001.
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