Behold! The Robot Olympics Are Upon Us

A DARPA-sponsored event has international teams competing robotic task-completing glory.

Soon our robot overlords will come for our precious Olympic medals.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is holding the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finalswhich will take place in Pomona, California and stream live via YouTube today and Saturday. You can watch below. 

Twenty-four advanced robotics research and development teams from around the world (including 12 from the United States, though there’s no word yet on whether Skynet is taking part) will build a robot to compete for a $2 million grand prize.

The competition aims to showcase human-supervised robotic technology capable of eventually helping emergency response teams in disaster scenarios like earthquakes, tsunamis, or nuclear disasters like the Fukushima Daiichi mel. 

In the finals, teams will test their robots over two runs in eight distinct obstacle challenges. Bots that can't finish the courses will lose points; only the top-scoring run will count. The team with the highest score wins, because that's what scores are for. 

The list of predetermined tasks for the machines are as follows:

1. Drive a vehicle 

2. Get out of the vehicle

3. Open a door and travel through the opening

4. Open a valve 

5. Use a cutting tool to cut a hole in a wall 

6. Complete an undisclosed surprise task 

7. Cross a debris field by moving the debris or traversing it, or negotiate irregular terrain

8. Climb stairs

The surprise task should/could be amazing. Hurdle a puddle? Lift a log? Stuff toothpaste back into a tube? Diplomatically retract a badly phrased compliment that your girlfriend totally took the wrong way? The rescue bots of tomorrow have to be prepared for anything.

I'm also wondering, hy this needs to be framed as a competition? Maybe DARPA just likes the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but we’re talking about pitting geniuses against each other. There's rescuing to be done, fellas. Not now, we have to beat those bastards from HRP2-Tokyo.

If anything awesome happens we'll update this piece. If there are no updates, it means rescue robots are not coming to help you in case of an earthquake. Fend.

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