After much anticipation, the winners of the DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) have been announced! Twenty-six teams from around the world qualified to compete in the VRC. Teams were judged on a number of factors, including the number of points earned in each task, the amount of bandwidth used when communicating with the robot, and the speed at which each task was completed. The results are posted in this DARPA news release . Congratulations to all of the teams that participated for their superb work during this competition!
The VRC was the first of three competitions that make up the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). Teams were given three main tasks to complete, and had five opportunities to complete each of the three tasks, with slight variations present in each attempt. The three main tasks were as follows: 1) Walk to a utility vehicle, get into the vehicle, drive it along the road and around obstacles, get out of the vehicle, and walk through the final gate. 2) Walk across varying terrain, including mud, over uneven terrain, and through a rubble-strewn field. 3) Walk to a fire hose, pick it up, screw the hose into a pipe, and turn a valve. These sample tasks reflect some of the actions required of rescue workers in disaster response scenarios. DARPA began with this virtual competition because the software to control advanced robots for disaster response is a critical prerequisite to making such robots work in the real world.
At OSRF, we’ve spent the last year building on top of Gazebo to create the DRC Simulator, which was used in the VRC. We have improved many aspects of Gazebo, including the physics models, sensor capabilities, real-time factor, and model accuracy and capabilities. In addition, we made it possible to run simulations in the cloud, making simulation-based work more accessible to folks interested in robotics. We’d like to thank all of the teams for their feedback, contributions, and support during the development phase of the VRC. The work we’ve done on the Simulator is, of course, all open source and available to anyone interested. Over the next few years, we will continue to improve Gazebo and aim to support and facilitate future robotics R&D.
We are not only honored to have been selected by DARPA to work with them on this stage of the DRC, but also proud of the fact that the Simulator will continue to be a resource for robot research and development in the future.
Again, congratulations to the winning teams for their truly impressive efforts and creativity in solving the VRC’s difficult tasks. We’re very excited to see what happens in the next round of the DRC.
For more information, see the DARPA VRC Winners Announcement.
You can see DARPA’s VRC overview video here .