DARPA plans to offer a $2 million prize to whoever can help push the state-of-the-art in robotics beyond today's capabilities in support of the DoD's disaster recovery mission. This Robotics Challenge will launch in October 2012. Teams are sought to compete in challenges involving staged disaster-response scenarios in which robots will have to successfully navigate a series of physical tasks corresponding to anticipated, real-world disaster-response requirements. These ground-based robots must execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. The program will focus on robots that can utilize available human tools, ranging from hand tools to vehicles. Supervised autonomy will be developed to allow robot control by non-expert operators, to lower operator workload, and to allow effective operation despite low fidelity (low bandwidth, high latency, intermittent) communications.
DARPA intends to solicit innovative research proposals in the area of robotics for disaster response. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice. The proposal due date is May 31, 2012.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge consists of both robotics hardware and software development tasks. It is DARPA's position that achieving true innovation in robotics, and thus success in this challenge, will require contributions from communities beyond traditional robotics developers. The challenge is structured to increase the diversity of innovative solutions by encouraging participation from around the world including universities, small, medium and large businesses and even individuals and groups with ideas on how to advance the field of robotics.
Contact DARPA for proposal details, e-mail: [email protected].