JPL Scores High in DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge

DARPA Virtual Robotic Challenge (VRC) tasks included guiding the robot over different terrain, including uneven ground.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected a group from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., as one of the teams entitled to move forward from the Virtual Robotics Challenge, the first event of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge seeks to spur development of advanced robots to assist humans in mitigating and recovering from natural and man-made disasters. The Virtual Robotics Challenge was a software competition carried out in a simulated environment that looked like an obstacle course set in a suburban area.

Twenty-six teams from eight countries qualified to compete in the virtual challenge, which ran from June 17-21, 2013. The teams applied software of their own design to a simulated robot to complete a series of tasks, such as driving a vehicle, walking over uneven ground and using tools.

The top teams, including JPL, were entitled to funding and an ATLAS robot from DARPA to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials in December 2013 (The agency is also funding several other teams, including JPL, to construct their own robot and compete in the Trials). The Trials are the second of three DARPA Robotics Challenge events, and the first physical competition.

JPL decided to merge its two efforts and offer the bulk of the resources it earned in the Virtual Robotics Challenge to other teams. This good sportsmanship allows members of the top nine teams to move forward, instead of the six for which DARPA had originally allocated resources.

- Details and a full list of Virtual Robotics Challenge teams selected to move forward.

- DARPA Robotics Challenge website

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