DARPA First Responder Robotics Challenge
The Navy isn’t the only defense agency interested in letting robots handle fire and rescue operations. DARPA has unveiled the details of its next grand robotics challenge: to create robotic first responders that can work in disaster and rescue operations in environments that are not safe for humans.
According to DARPA, the goal of the challenge is to “develop ground robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. The program will focus on robots that can use available human tools, ranging from hand tools to vehicles.”
Teams picked by the Pentagon will compete for the $2 million prize in different development tracks. Different groups will create control software, robots, or a combination of the two. A virtual challenge event will take place in June of 2013 to test the control of a GFE (government funded equipment) robot. The first physical competition will take place in 2013, followed by a final challenge event in December 2014.
Robots will be expected to drive a utility vehicle, remove debris blocking an entryway, open doors, climb ladders, user power tools to break through a barrier, locate and close a valve, and attach a connector such as a wired harness or fire hose.
Two of the tracks are already selected, but registration is open for self-funded teams to enter the software or complete system tracks through February and October 2013, respectively. Interested teams can register here.