Handicapping The 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge

Handicapping The 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge

Today kicks off the two-day mechanolympics of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials at Homestead Miami Speedway. With teams from around the world competing in eight tasks, only one will take home the purse. Just a few hours in it’s still any robot’s game. We’ve got your odds right here, so you can bet on the future.

There are 17 competition-funded teams and a handful of independents competing today, but we’re focusing on the frontrunners so far. If a dark horse emerges, we’ll be sure to update our odds.

WPI Robotics Engineering C Squad, WRECS (4/1): The first team to get its hands on an Atlas bot in July, the student-based WRECS team is young. That could give them the edge in energy and stamina, or their relative inexperience could hinder them. The six-foot-tall, 330lb Atlas has legendary balance and agility, making it a favourite for walking and climbing challenges, but WRECS isn’t the only team taking advantage of Atlas’s strengths.

Trooper (2/1): With a Boston Dynamics Atlas and brainpower from Lockheed Martin, UPenn and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, TROOPER has the facilities and the staff to beat.

Traclabs (3/1): The scrappy underdogs of the DARPA Challenge, TRACLabs is banking on strong fundamentals, perfecting the simple movements that could help their Atlas clinch the victory.

MIT (3/1): Assembling a dream team from all corners of their campus, Team MIT has the brainpower, and their Atlas bot has the brawn.

Schaft (6/1): The broad-shouldered, squat HRP-2 biped only measures four-foot-10, but at 209 lbs and with a 51-INCH wingspan, Schaft could have fleet-footed litheness on its side.

Kaist (4/1): The team from Korea has competitive spirit and a 6-foot, 10-inch DRC-Hubo biped co-developed with Drexel University. Kaist’s special teams training used seven different DRC-Hubo bots, each optimised to a single challenge task. The results were combined in a single bot than can walk for over 2 hours, do pushups, and operate hand tools. A true utility player.

NASA JSC Team Valkyrie (7/1): Johnson Space Center has a 20-year legacy in humanoid robot development, and the six-foot-two, 286 lb Valkyrie, “inspired by a female first responder wearing body armour” brings 44 degrees of American freedom to the fight. Team Valkyrie is playing the long game, claiming they’re focused on next year’s final challenge rather than victory today. Is it sandbagging? We’ll see.