Ready For Action

Drexel’s robotics engineers have been prepping for more than a year to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge trials, which will take place this weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Here’s what you need to know to follow the DRC-HUBO team even if you can’t make it down to Florida:


If you’re just catching up, Drexel is leading a team of roboticists from eight institutions in a competition to build the best robotic first responder for disaster scenarios –the DARPA Robotics Challenge.  Team DRC-HUBO, Drexel’s squad, is up against some of the best and brightest engineers in the world, including opponents from NASA, Carnegie Mellon, Virginia Tech and a company from Tokyo. These teams have been prepping since last fall and the winners this week will move on to the second round of the completion, with $1 million in funding and another year to prepare for the finals.

All of the teams’ robots will show off their chops at the trials this weekend,  performing the kind of tasks that would be required for a robot needed to replace a human in disaster response situations that are unsafe for human operators. 


Trials will take place on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20-21 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Closing ceremonies and announcement of the eight teams who will advance to round two, will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

For the full schedule of events visit:

DRC-HUBO’s schedule looks like this:

Friday, Dec. 20

9:15 a.m. – vehicle driving

12:30 p.m. – rough terrain walking

3 p.m.  – ladder climbing

Saturday, Dec. 21

8 a.m. – hose attaching

10 a.m. – debris clearing

11 a.m. – door opening

1 p.m. – wall breaking

2 p.m. – valve turning

How to Follow 

If you can’t make it to Miami, you can follow the trials online at DARPA will be updating scores on the site and periodically posting video from each of the tasks on both days.

A free smartphone app is also available that lets you track the team throughout the trials and follow the standings in real time.

You can also join the conversation at #DARPADRC on twitter. Hubo’s official twitter handle is @DRCHubo, but he might be a bit busy with the trials, so you can also follow me (@DrexelBritt) and here’s a full list of handles for the other DRC teams.

The CompetitionDRC_logo_2-1

Team DRC-HUBO is up against 16 other teams and must finish among the top eight in order to advance to the finals and receive additional funding from DARPA.

There are eight events or trials, designed to simulate tasks that a robot would face in a disaster scenario such as a nuclear meltdown. Teams can score a maximum of four points in each event (three for completing segments of the task and a fourth point if it’s completed without touching the robot).

Here’s a breakdown of what each task entails and how they will be scored:

Vehicle driving

Rough terrain traversal

Ladder climbing

Debris clearing

Door opening

Wall breaking

Valve turning

Hose attaching

The Spoils of Victory

The top eight teams will advance to the DRC finals, which will be held at the end of 2014, and receive an additional $1 million in funding. The ultimate prize of the robotics challenge, is a $2 million award and, of course, the prestige of winning a DARPA grand challenge.

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