Disaster robots from around the world face off in Robotics Challenge final

disaster robots from around the world face off in robotics challenge final darpa

Twenty-four of the world’s top robots are all set to battle it out in a testing robotics challenge event this weekend.

There’s $3.5 million up for grabs in the contest, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA.

Teams from around the world are descending on Pomona near Los Angeles on Friday for two days  of robotic-based shenanigans that’ll see one walk away with a wedge of cash and a whole lot of kudos.

In the words of the organizers, the event is “a competition of human-robot teams testing technology developed to help emergency personnel respond to natural and man-made disasters.”

Each team’s robot faces eight challenges, including climbing up steps, crossing a rough terrain, opening and walking through a door, and driving a car (that should be interesting). There’s also a mystery challenge which the teams will only learn about on Friday. Our money’s on it not having anything to do with baking a cake.

Finalists include teams from the U.S., Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. This weekend’s event is the climax to three years of preliminary rounds that saw plenty of challengers fall by the wayside.

DARPA’s robot challenge came about following the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that hit northeast Japan in March 2011. Robot technology has already been used inside Fukushima’s stricken nuclear plant.

The technologies on display at the contest are set to transform robotics R&D, paving the way for more advanced robots capable of operating in hazardous conditions common in disaster zones.

The contest is free to attend, so if you happen to in the area and feel like taking a close-up look at some insanely advanced robotic technology, then feel free to drop by. Besides the challenges, there’ll be various demonstrations taking place and the chance to view a range of related exhibits, including ones put on by the competition entrants. More information here.