Jan Lorenz is an MSc student in DTU’s Electrical/ Mechanical Engineering Dual Degree Program with KAIST. He has sent his account of last week’s DARPA Robot Challenge Finals at which the team from his laboratory at KAIST won first place and 2 million USD. He has sent this report from the event.
Getting the offer to attend DARPA Robot Challenge (DRC) Finals in Pomona, California, when being in the middle of the one year stay at KAIST, is like getting an offer one cannot refuse.
That is what happened to me: Professor Oh (my advisor at KAIST), asked if I would like to go together with the rest of the HUBOLab to the DRC finals, and I said immediately yes.
Getting the chance of seeing the 24 best humanoid robots in the world up close and talking with their creators about their choices for design and what they had chosen to focus on as the most important aspect of the robots, was a unique experience, that I would not be without.
The competition itself was held at the Fairplex horse track, and from the tribune, one could see four robots competing at a time, for whole seconds rounds of different robots.
The robots varied from biped walking only to moving on quadruple legs, and even biped walking robots equipped with wheels or tracks for faster movements. Among these robots there were even a few that could transform for different locomotion stiles.
The team from KAIST, Hubolab, was participating with Team KAIST, and we used a self-designed, self-manufactured, and self-built humanoid robot called DRC-Hubo. This was different from the majority which used the Boston Dynamics’ ATLAS model.
On the first day of the competition, Hubo took 7 out of 8 points, getting a fifth placement in the total ranking, but on the second day Hubo took all 8 points of the task course in only 44 minutes and 28 seconds.
During the run on the second/last day the hearts of all the team members who were on the tribune were hammering, and when the 8 points were achieved, a boundless roar of happiness was coming from the tribune.
An hour after all the robots had run their course, a second round of happiness came, when we found that the two other teams who had got 8 points were 5 and 10 minutes slower than our DRC-Hubo, realising that we had just one the DRC finals, and 2 million USD for the lab.