After 21 months of work, the MIT DARPA Robotics Challenge Team is now at a NASCAR stadium in Florida to compete in the Challenge's "Trials": eight tasks involving walking, climbing and handling tools and other objects. Of the 150-odd teams that launched in spring 2012, 17 remain in the pool; of these, eight will advance to a third round of funding and a spot in the December 2014 Finals.
The Trials will be webcast. MIT will field its robot on Friday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.; on Saturday at 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 1:45 p.m., and if necessary during make-up slots late in the afternoon on each day.
The MIT team draws members from many parts of MIT, including the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Center for Ocean Engineering.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge is motivated by disasters such as the Fukushima Daiichi hydrogen explosion and the Deepwater Horizon underwater oil spill. The key goal is to develop a dexterous mobile robot that can move through and within disaster zones and perform useful tasks, with minimal guidance from remote human operators.