Google’s Shaft Robots Top Darpa Challenge By Wide Margin

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Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)-owned Shaft robots won the Darpa Robotics Challenge organized by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). The Shaft robot was developed by a Japanese robotics startup, which Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently acquired. DARPA required each participant robot to perform eight rescue-themed activities. Shaft’s robot carried our all the tasks successfully in the two-day event held near Miami, Florida. Robots from 16 teams had participated in the challenge. Three of them scored a miserable zero, including one by NASA.

Google’s Shaft robot did this

The eight tasks were:

  1. Driving a utility vehicle
  2. Climbing an eight-foot high ladder
  3. Removing debris that blocked a doorway
  4. Pulling open a lever-handled door
  5. Crossing a course that had steps, unfastened blocks and ramps
  6. Taking a cordless drill to cut a triangular shape in the wall
  7. Closing three air valves, and
  8. Unreeling a hose and screwing in its nozzle

More than 100 teams applied in the beginning. But only 17 could participate in the challenge, and Chinese team Intelligent Pioneer dropped out at the last moment. So, there were only 16 participants. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s 1.48-meter tall Shaft robot lived up to the expectations. It won 27 out of the total 32 points, beating the second-ranked IHMC Robotics by 7 points. Darpa awarded 3 points for successfully completing each task, and the robots got a bonus point if they did it without any human help.

Google’s robot almost perfect

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Shaft was almost perfect. It lost points when the wind blew the door out of its hold, and because it was unable to climb out of the vehicle after driving the utility vehicle. Carnegie Mellon University’s Tartan Rescue was ranked third with 18 points, followed by MIT’s Atlas with 16 points. Darpa said the top eight teams can now compete in the next year’s finals. Each of these teams will receive $1 million to improve the skills of their robots. And the winner in December 2014 will get a $2 million prize.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) must be delighted with Shaft’s stupendous performance at Darpa. The search engine giant recently acquired eight robotics companies. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares jumped 0.50% to $1,117.50 at 11:43 AM EST.

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