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DARPA Robotics Challenge Final Details

Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette. Last updated on Jul 06, 2015 9:28 AM
Posted on Jun 02, 2015 11:05 AM. 4 min read time

As the DARPA Robotics Challenge is fast approaching, we were able to get supplementary details on the competition. Since this is the third and Final challenge, and in California, the venue is set up for more of a show than the previous more mechanically nitty-gritty challenge, which was held in the pit-stop hangers of a racecourse. A bunch of people from the public and from industry are planning to attend in order to get a closer look at the robots and their performance.

One of the main goals of this event is to bring the public and robots closer together. Another of the goals of the organizers is to pass from Sci-Fi to Sci-Facts, by motivating robotics teams to get out of their university labs and apply their skills to some real world problems, like hazardous environmental rescues. This challenge will help project robots as being able to help us solve familiar life problems in our work or at home instead of thinking of them as film style killing machines.

Before any more information, take a look at the Challenge teaser. 

As we have already described in other blog posts, the Challenge is segmented into different stages. The more steps you complete, the more points you get. There are a variety of new rules too that have to be respected and there will be a surprise challenge that the teams will only learn about at the event. For further information on the rules, follow this link

We made a short list of the new features of the competition and what will be interesting to see.

  • darpa-robotic-challengeThere will be live streaming on the DRC website. The media coverage will include short clips, team presentations and other multi-media content.
  • The challenge venue will encompass the competition, more than 70 exhibits (see Robotiq there), a post workshop and presentations of the award winners for both the DRC Challenge and the Robots4Us challenge. 
  • There will be a total of 4 parallel tracks for the Challenge. This will increase the adrenaline for the competition since the final will include the 4 main contenders at the same time on their respective courses. 
  • Each team will have one run on Friday and another on Saturday. The better of the two runs will be kept for the final point tally.
  • The track can be changed without notice to avoid programming specific routines for the robot. The exact same principle applies for the special surprise stage of the challenge.
  • Since there is a greater risk for the robots to crash, (no tethers remember) they have switched from a ladder to a regular staircase (don't want to hurt anybody here!). 

So that is pretty much it for the latest details. When we participated in the conference call with the DARPA organization, they told us that they would not be revealing all of the steps of the competition. So in order to determine the winner, there might need to be further obstacles or tests.

According to DARPA Program Manager, Gill Pratt, the technology is still on the cutting edge and is not yet ready for deployment in a real life situations. There will need to be further developments to make the robots completely autonomous in a real disaster, such as the latest earthquake in Nepal. As he said ''It took 3 competitions and 10 years to have a hype around autonomous cars''. It will probably be the same for rescue robots, but we have certainly made progress even since the last challenge in December of 2013. It would be more than interesting to push the limits of these robots a little more and be able to really do something with all this robot evolution. So let's see what the final stage brings.


The challenge was presented to American students from grades 9 to 12. The goal was to express their vision of robotics in the society and what they would like to see robots could do for them. The presentations were done using a video platform. The winning teams will be heading to Pomona, CA to see real robots at the DRC, to show their videos and their vision of robotics in our society to the public. The winners have recently been announced

We will be present at the DRC to support the teams and to demonstrate our products at booth 15!. If you are going to be there, stop by and see our team. If you are interested in the different applications that can be done with our 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper, take a look at the link below.

Innovative robotic r&d projects robotiq

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Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
Mathieu is a production engineer at Robotiq, where he constantly strives to optimize the production line for Robotiq Grippers. He enjoys discovering new robotic applications and sharing what he learns on Robotiq's blog.
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