. Finale: DARPA Robotic Challenge at Los Angeles: NO MORE GAME!

. Limited US Robotic help for the FUKUSHIMA-DAIICHI in JAPAN!

Historical DARPA Grand Challenge

DARPA Robotics Challenge`s Trials - First Part (review)


Credit: DARPAtv





. National Space Defense Center 

. Army Astronauts, and more...


. Crew's preparation for the ISS  

. Space Travel : XCOR Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Bigelow  Aerospace & more...



***Special File - DARPA Robotic's Challenges***

Before the Grand Finale in Los Angeles, Teams have pasted through many events. Everything has started with the Catastrophic Tsunami in Japan, followed by the Virtual Robotic Challenge and, the Trials in Florida.

Limited US Robotic help for Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan!

In April 15, 2011, the Robot T-Hawk has taken the right picture, where we see the caisson of the reactor number 4 completely destroyed after the passage of a tsunami.

To help Japan, the DARPA sent robots to support the effort of the experts in their attempts to stop the leaks and the radioactive accumulation on the site of the central.


The Virtual Robotic Challenge

To be eligible to the physical competition of the DARPA Robotics Challenges, Trials in December 2013, parties concerned must demonstrate their capabilities in a Virtual Challenge. 

For the third VRC'stask, the robot must take a fire hose, connect it to the mouth and turn the valve.


Big success for DARPA's Trials in Florida

After the VRC test, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, organized a physical competition, the DRC, between the best teams selected. The all took place in December 2013, in Florida.

The conduct of a Polaris Ranger 900, on a distance of 75 meters, was the first task of the competition. Sitting in the vehicle, the key in the starter and the engine running, that is the starting conditions for the robots.


The Robot Atlas

The robot Atlas measure 6 feet 2 inches, and weighs 330 pounds. It has a stereo camera equipped with at least 2 lenses, allowing a deep binocular perception. Above its head, it has a Lidar system which allows to measure the distance to a target. This perception is done by a laser send and the reflection of light that is returned.

In addition to its internal computer regulated in real time, a thermal system and a hydraulic pump, the Atlas has 28 hydraulic actuators for the movement of its members. Although it is equipped with strong hands and easy to handle, allowing to take several types of objects, its creators have added wrists modular, which makes possible to change hands or tools such as screwdrivers, flashlights or hammers.

Its structure can also move thanks to his ankles, which have two degrees of freedom of movement, which allows its feet to move from top to bottom and left to right. For the Competition, the Atlas is fitted with either a loin, either of a attaches to the power supply and communications.


The robot HRP2 of the team AIST-Nedo of Ibaraki Japan crosses a field sprinkle of bricks. Test of balance. Credit: www.theroboticschallenge.org/

The robot Running Man of the team IHMC Robotics of Pensocola, Florida, faces the test of the opening and crossing of the door. Credit: www.theroboticschallenge.org/

The team ViGIR has appointed their robot Florian of after the patron saint of firefighters.


With structures of humanoids, software, sensors and sophisticated systems of Human-machine interfaces, teams realized a series of tasks conceived by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, for their relevance in emergency situations.

Why an competition?

The principle of the competition has been developed several years ago within the DARPA. It always allowed the military Agency to realize spectacular progress in the sciences and technologies.

As for Robotics Challenge, the purpose was to have the possibility in a future to move closer to live a situation where... Lucius, at the wheel of a MOUNTAIN BIKE POLARIS RANGER, dodging pieces of concrete, branches of tree and pipes sprinkling the road adjoining a nuclear complex. Near an almost completely destroyed building, he stops, lowers and crosses a ground strewed with bricks. In front of him, there is a door blocked by pieces of wood and pipes. No matter, he removes them without difficulties, and it is true even if the air is toxic and even if, it wears no mask!

Lucius is not a man. He could be a humanoid designed with the success of the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC), the competition thrown in 2012 by the DARPA, while the ultimate purpose is to help human beings during natural disasters or those created by themselves.

It is following the earthquake and following the tsunami of March 11th, 2011, that destroyed the Fukushima-Daïchi nuclear power plant in Japan, that the idea of a new competition germinated. This disaster revealed the human incapacity to limit the first effects of a disaster, which worsened the situation.

The absence of ventilation allowed the hydrogen to accumulate in the boxes of protection of reactors, causing a series of explosions and more damages. Globally, it had there 1600 direct deaths and the effects in waterfall of the radiation caused uncountable damage in the others populations.

More autonomy, more challenges

During the Finale of the DRC, operators and their robots surmounted more great difficulties than during Trials of December, 2013. Under the hot sun of California, robots were provided with no cordon-supply, were entitled with no direct physical and visual contacts. In fact, they were autonomous in their actions, faster in the execution and bandwidths of data offered more corruptions. And, to add to the difficulty, a SURPRISED TASK!

Before having a ticket to the Finale, teams had the obligation to integrate an emergency cut-off system on their robot. This system wireless telegraphy indicates by a point of light its arrangement or not for the security execution of a task.

Open to all, but it is necessary to make its proofs!

Before having the ticket for the Finale, teams have sending a video on YOUTUBE, under a non-listed section, and send the URL link to TheRoboticsChallenge@darpa.mil. In this video, the robot has to show that it can achieve all the wanted tasks. The limited date fixed was February 27th, 2015. In the discretion of DARPA, a team tenderer could show in all moment by their officials.

In fact, the Agency had to be able to see that the robot possessed an emergency cut-off system. This system have to be commanded by wireless telegraphy, visible and functional through a light. Afterward, it has to get up or get up with regard to the ground or from a flat surface, even damaged. Once up, it has to move on a distance of at least ten meters, and so, in a maximum time of five minutes. And, always at the same time assigned, he has to cross a rectangular barrier of at least 20 centimeters (cm) high and between 10 and 20 cm wide. To finish, from a distance of at least two meters, the robot makes a circular rotation of 360 degrees at a valve, anticlockwise.

On the left , there are some pictures taken by DARPA during the execution of the tasks of robots. This competition took place under the hot sun of California, on June 5th and 6th, 2015. In all, robots faced eight tests, giving at each a point when successful. The total allowed time for the execution was of 60 minutes.

So, they had to drive a vehicle, go down from this one, open a door and cross it, open a valve, used a saw to cut a hole from a wall, react to a Surprised manipulation, cross a ground strewed with bricks or irregular and to go up some steps. 

As already underline, all the tasks began outside and the held operators, so feigning degraded communications.

For the driving task, teams had the choice between to do it, for two points, or not, for any point. The vehicle can only go forward, without possibility of moving back. And to obtain the second point, the robot had to move up to the entrance of the door, in the center of a space of 2 square meters. This door is the third task where it has to treat the handle to open it completely and cross it, which gets another point.

For the fourth task, the robot had to turn a valve of a diameter varying from 4 to 16 inches, anticlockwise. Afterward, a circle of eight inches of diameter drawn on the wall indicated the portion to be cut. For this fifth task, it could use a Dewalt DCD980M2, the load of which lasts only five minutes and who is provided with a trigger, or still, an electric Dewalt DCS551 working with a button one / off. In this last case, with its fingers, it had to be able of proceeding to its putting on, problematic to anticipate for teams.

The sixth task was the Surprise by which robots were called to fit. Here, the warrior of steel had to lower a lever, feigning the power cut. Thus, the task asked of the manipulation and no mobility, what was reserved for the seventh task! Indeed, this task gave the opportunity to the robot to obtain a point if it managed to cross a ground to sprinkle with bricks or still made uneven. Finally, for the eighth and last task, the robot had to go up a staircase by using, if it wished for it, of a banister on its left.

For all tasks of the Final, contrary to the testing of December 2013, the robot could not use as a source of external power supply, nor of Internet communications with operators. It was asked to be almost entirely autonomous, as it would have been in a chaotic environment.

Team KAIST of Daejeon of the Republic of Korea, and their robot CRB-Hubo, be awarded of the first place and a prize of $2 million US. The second place with a price of $ 1 million US has been awarded to the team IHMC Robotics of Pensocola in Florida and his robot Running Man. Finally, the team tartan rescue of Pittsburgh and their robot chimp, is left with $500,000 US.

1- Team KAIST: 8 points - 44:28 minutes 2- Team IHMC: 8 points - 50:26 minutes 3-Team tartan Rescue: 8 points - 55:15 minutes


In 2004 and 2005, DARPA used the spirit of competition of the best brains of the planet to accelerate the technological development of autonomous vehicles - two Grand Challenges whose the ultimate goal was to reduce human losses that occur when a military convoy travels on a enemy strewn road with mines or explosives. These tests of 142 and 132 miles, respectively for 2004 and 2005, took places in the desert of Primm, in Nevada.

The DARPA repeated the exercise in 2007 with the Urban Challenge, a competition taking place in the city of Victoriaville in California. In this urban context, autonomous vehicles were to be involved in the movement and respect of the safety code of road. The effect of this invigoration of the research and development has enabled the rapid manufacturing UAVs, aircraft without drivers, and a wide range of derivative products widely used today.


On 13 March 2004, near Barstow, California, 15 vehicles are given appointments to mark the first great challenge organized by DARPA. The price offered was one million US$. These teams were to design vehicles which could navigate in an autonomous manner, or without drivers, through the difficult desert of Primm, in the State of Nevada.

Despite the time allocated of 10 hours to travel the 142 miles of the traverses, no team has been able to do better than 7 and a half miles. The reason was that the technologies developed during the attempt were not strong enough for the bumpy desert of Primm. Even if the competition has not had the success hoped, it has all the same route the bases on which was possible in the autonomous vehicles.

Surpassing all the expectations of the military agency, this competition focused on the price had for objective to attract new brains and ideas as well as to encourage multidisciplinary collaborations. The long-term objective was to accelerate the development of technological bases for the autonomous vehicles. Ultimately, these could substitute men and women in the military operations hazard, as the supply convoys.

Encouraged by this first competition, DARPA announced a second major challenge for the fall of 2005, 18 months later. For this second test, on 195 entered teams, five have successfully completed the race of 132 miles in the south of Nevada. Stanford University has finished first in a time of 6 hours and 53 minutes and won the price of 2 million of US $.

In 2007, the DARPA organized a third edition. The Urban Challenge, on the complex circuit of Victoriaville in California. On this circuit, there had the dense traffic, barriers and traffic lights. Six of the 11 entered teams have completed the race with success. Based on the time and the ability to follow the Californian automobile rules of conduct, the team Tartan Racing of the Carnegie Mellon University came first in the number of points and won the price of 2 million of US $.


A competitive model that continues in addition to the DARPA Robotics Challenge, DRC, there are two other challenges that capitalize on the competitive component to highlight the technological development. The spectrum Challenge is a competition where teams must demonstrate that a protocol radi may be better to use in a communication network given, and this, in the presence of other users and interfering signals. The objective is to secure a communication in a congested environment. The challenge includes a face-to-face between teams. The finals have had places 19 and 20 March 2014.

With respect to the Cyber Grand Challenge, GSC, a competition in order to develop a comprehensive network of self-defense. Similar to the competitions for the computer security played by expert analysts of the programming software, the GSC requires automatic systems or self-employed to resolve software defects presenting themselves, develop patches of interlocks and deploy on the network in real time. The major objective is to bring together experts in the analysis of programs with those of the computer security in order to bring research in automation outside of laboratories.

Through this Cyber Grand Challenge, DARPA wishes to propel a new wave in the research and development, the effect of which would be to feed the innovation, encourage the commercial investment and lower the costs of these technological advances. In June 3, 2014, experts in computer security from the academia, the industry and the whole of the Community working in this sector, a meeting of more than 30 teams has been hold for a confrontation.

This tournaments accelerates permit to develop autonomous systems of safety, or even who are able to defend themselves against cyber-attacks when they are launched. The Grand Final, in collaboration with the DEF CON, had take place in 2016, under the supervision of Mr Mike Walker of DARPA.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems - predator A/B | Photo: U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Brian Furguson - Cover image aussi via U.S. Air Force | Source:active around the world, by Ioannis K. erripis, military & defense, March 15, 2013.

For more information on these Grand Challenges:

* 2004 Grand Challenge: Http://archive.darpa.mil/grandchallenge04/media_gallery.htm

* 2005 Grand Challenge: Http://archive.darpa.mil/grandchallenge05/mediagallery.html

* 2007 Urban Challenge: Http://archive.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/gallery.html

Credit: http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/03/13.aspx


Once crossed the finish line, the robot moves the transmission arm of the Drive mode to mode Park. The caution recommended that it do so in order to avoid any damage. Subsequently, after having crossed a field elevation of 108 square meters and be released through one of the ends, he deserves another point.

S-one, the robot of the team SCHAFT seems well at ease in the ATV. This robot is without doubt the one that is the most shown during the tests DRC in winning 4 of 8 events, for a total of 27 points. The concept team of this champion of 4 feet 11 inches and 209 pounds, is the organization SCHAFT of Japan. It must its power and speed through the use of a capacitor liquid of hautetension which cooled its engine rather than a battery and a normal servo motor.

At the Third event,the robot Trooper shows a lot of style in the rise of the scale. Its designer, the team trooper, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Labs, has also used the structure of a robot Atlas. For all tasks, he obtained a total of 9 points.

After the virtual tests of senior levels, the ENC, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, organized a physical competition between the best teams selected. The all took place in December 2013. For the occasion, these multidisciplinary teams were constructed of robots and the have faced in a series of tasks requiring manual dexterity, balance and physical force.

The idea of a competition is not new to accelerate the development of technologies. The robotics finds its origin in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, Japan. In addition to the fact that the disaster destroyed the central nuclear Fukushima-Daiichi, it mit in light the human inability to mitigate the first effects of a disaster, what to worsen the situation. In effect, the absence of ventilation has allowed the hydrogen to accumulate in the casing of ^rotection of reactors, causing a series of explosions and more damage. Overall, there numbered nearly 1600 direct deaths and the cascading effects of radiation have caused countless damage in the neighboring populations.

To help Japan, the DARPA sent robots to support the effort of the experts in their attempt to stop the leaks and the radioactive accumulation on the site of the central. Unfortunately, these robots - iRobot PackBot, QineQ heel and the Honeywell T-Hawk - Designed for the tactical reconnaissance military, had limited capabilities. They therefore ceased to report the images of what they filming to operators. The question was then, namely Why to develop If robots prodigious if they cannot assist in emergency situations?

It is therefore with this spirit that the military Agency invited, in April 2012, the best scientists of the robotics and the design of software of the world to come and face for a price of $2 million US. Under the aegis of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, DRC, this competition was designed to improve the mobility and dexterity of robots in a degraded environment and chaotic. At the time of this announcement, a contract was awarded to Boston dynamic for the development of a hydraulic robot whose structure would be the height of an adult man. He was appointed Atlas.

Physical tests marking !

Physical Tests marking!
The conduct of a Polaris Ranger 900, on a distance of 75 meters, was the first task of the tests of the DRC. Sitting in the vehicle, the key in the starter and the engine running, that is the starting conditions for the robots. Although this was not required, they could maneuver the transmission arm if they wished. As for humans, the robots were to press on the accelerator for the roll and, at the appropriate time, turn the steering wheel to avoid the obstacles. This was important because, throughout the journey, it was necessary to circumvent a series of barriers of plastic oranges and white, with blue barrels placed on the ends, also in plastic.

At the top-left, the robot Thor of the team valor bypasses the blue barrels, demonstrating a strong control of the vehicle. Once the front wheels will have crossed the finish line, at the end of 75 meters, the test will be considered completed and the robot will gain a point. A line of a distance of 3.5 inches is drawn around the barriers. If during the race a barrier moves beyond this line, the test will end and the score will be zero.

For the second physical test, the robots must crossing a land covered of bricks in three steps.

The robot chimp completes the second segment of the crossing of the land. This robot of 5 feet 2 inches, weighing 400 pounds, is so strong in manual tasks that he has had 3 Perfect Results: Cut a triangle in a wall, move the pieces of wood and close a series of industrial valves. His team, Tartan rescue, comes from Carnergie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center. As it comes from the track has, the DARPA has offered them $3 million for the design of their robot and their software system. CHIMP has won 18 points to the tests of the DRC.

The team TRACLabs is the designer of the Robot Atlas-Hercules, seen above, after having crossed the first segment, a small rise and bricks of 6 inches high. Its two feet placed after the yellow line shows that it is preparing to face the second elevation. Once again, this second sous-tâche will be completed when its two feet will be entirely dishes on the blocks of the third section or when it will have more contact with the field of the environment.

The third and last sub-task is more complex since the robot must survey the bricks which the tilt angle varies. To help, it is authorized to move the blocked but, if there is human intervention, it will be back to its point of departure. Again, the test will be completed when it crosses the red line and ask his two feet in the final area.

Darpa robotics challenge 2015 Finals DRC Hubo 휴보 2 [ Team Kaist ] - 8 Tasks - perfect clear- Record - 44:28 - 8/8 Point Winner : Team Kaist. Credit: HuboLab KAIST

Limited US Robotic help for the FUKUSHIMA-DAIICHI in JAPAN!

Imagine a scenario where... At the wheel of its ATV Polaris Ranger, Lucius evades the barriers of plastic which dot the road of 75 meters. It stops, descends and crosses terrain dotted with bricks. Behind him, there is a door blocked by pieces of wood. He removes them without difficulty.

Lucius is not a human being, it is a humanoid-type designed at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, DRC. This competition has been launched in 2012 by the Defense Advanced Reaserch Projects Agency, DARPA, to help humans during natural disasters or those created by themselves.

It is in the wake of the earthquake and the tsunami of March 11, 2011, a disaster that destroyed the nuclear central Fukushima-Daichi in Japan, that the idea of a competition has germinated. This disaster has brought to light the human incapicity to mitigate the first effects of an explosion, which has worsened the situation. The absence of ventilation has allowed the hydrogen to accumulate in the casing in protection of reactors, causing a series of explosions and more damage. Overall, there were nearly 1600 direct deaths and the cascading effects of radiation have caused countless damage in the neighboring populations.

The picture above, taken April 15, 2011, by the Robot T-Hawk, the reactor number 4 present to the environment. Its caisson of protection has been destroyed after the passage of a tsunami.

To help Japan, the DARPA sent robots to support experts' efforts in their attempts to stop leaks and the radioactive accumulation on the site of the central. Unfortunately, these robots - iRobot PackBot, QineQ heel and the Honeywell T-Hawk - designed for tactical military reconnaissance, had limited capabilities. They therefore ceased to report the images of what they saw to operators. The question is then posed: Why developing these prodigious robots if they cannot assist in emergency situations?

The result of explosions after the passage of a tsunami is particularly visible on the reactors of the nuclear power plant. Courtesy of the Robot T-Hawk. Source: Strateofthenation2012.com Source: Http://cryptome.org/eyeball/daiichi-npp9/daiichi-photos9.htm

The Honeywell T-Hawk is a vehicle steering wheel without pilot who makes account critical situations in real time . If necessary, it can fly up to 10 000 feet.

About 2000 PackBot robots  manufactured by the company iRobot are currently used in the world under several roles, including military. This robot uses a system of recognition by variable geometry which makes it able to fit easily on stairs. Stable, several versions exist and it can be equipped with accessories as arms or cameras.

Originally developed by Foster-Miller, the Qinetiq-NA heel is a small caterpillar robot acquired by Qinetiq North America. In addition to be able to move on several difficult terrains, it has a versatile platform that can incorporate sensors and actuators. On some military theaters, a sword version can be equipped with a rifle.

In the above picture, we see a leak of radioactive water near the number 3 engine, leakage discovery by Qineq-NA heel on May 11, 2011.

Credit: George Stanley