The ATLAS DRC Robot has had a major upgrade in preparation for the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals which now promise to be much harder.
In the past, robotics challenges were rather a bore, so much so that the videos were speeded up to make it possible to see something happening, and the robots had tethers to prevent them falling over. This, of course, was not a good way to convince the man in the street that a robot might one day come to his rescue if involved in a major incident.
The Atlas robot, revealed by DARPA on 20th January, 2015, has had a 75% rebuild with only the lower legs and feet carried over from the original design. Atlas will now compete without tethers, and will have onboard battery power that should last for the one hour challenge.
The upgraded robot will be used by up to seven teams competing in the DARPA Finals, which will take place from 5th to 6th June, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, California. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.
From the DARPA website: “Technologies resulting from the DRC will transform the field of robotics and catapult forward development of robots featuring task-level autonomy that can operate in the hazardous, degraded conditions common in disaster zones.” The winning team, whose robot succeeds best in a circuit of consecutive physical tasks, will receive a $2 million prize this year.