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BGU Robot Participates in DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge

BGU Robot Participates in DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge

June 6, 2013

Robotics & High-Tech

D3 virtual robotics challenge_storyA team of researchers from BGU were invited to participate in the prestigious Robotics Challenge sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military.

BGU’s team “Robil” is developing software to control a search and rescue robot, the GFE (government-funded equipment) Platform being developed by Boston Dynamics, Inc. based on its Atlas humanoid robot.

The only foreign university team invited to participate, the Robil team was awarded $375,000 to develop the software.

The team is being led by Prof. Hugo Guterman of BGU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who is also a leading member of the Homeland Security Institute at BGU.

DARPA’s Robotics Challenge is a series of three increasingly difficult competitions. The first one is the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) in which the teams’ robots compete in a computer-simulated environment.

The Robil team is one of twenty-six teams that qualified to participate in the VRC. To determine the tasks that the computer-simulated robots would need to complete, DARPA consulted with disaster responders like firefighters, police and nuclear engineers, asking them, “What would you want a robot to be able to do?”

In addition to things like walking over rubble and driving, a high priority was basic tool use and manipulation of hoses and valves, for example, to get cooling water into a nuclear power plant after a disaster.

View a video of the Robil Team completing some of the qualifying tasks >>