TORC Robotics announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Team ViGIR – Virginia-Germany Interdisciplinary Robotics Team – for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). The technical goal of this revolutionary challenge is to develop ground robots that can support complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments typical of disaster response scenarios.
The program – motivated by the Fukushima disaster – will challenge teams to develop robotic software and hardware capabilities to support first responders. The DRC is a multi-year, multi-phase challenge where research teams from across the world will compete against each other for a $2M prize. Team ViGIR will develop advanced humanoid robotics software and a novel Human-Robot Interface that will enable sliding autonomy for the Boston Dynamics Petman/Atlas humanoid robot.
No stranger to competitive robotics, Team ViGIR consists of researchers from TORC Robotics, Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt, and Virginia Tech. “We are really looking forward to taking on another DARPA challenge. These challenges have really shaped the field of robotics in last decade. DARPA’s challenges create a high stakes environment that is a catalyst for innovation, and I think we have the team for the job,” states Michael Fleming, CEO at TORC Robotics.
TORC engineers have been part of both the DARPA Grand Challenges and the Urban Challenge, where TORC led the software development VictorTango’s 3rd place finish. A strong competitor in the RoboCup challenges, TU Darmstadt adds significant experience in autonomous humanoid robotics for search and rescue. The team will leverage experience from Virginia Tech’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCI). CHCI is a world leader in design and research of novel HCI concepts and winner of three straight 3D User Interface IEEE competitions.