You are here

UNLV Engineering Team One of 25 Selected to Participate in Worldwide Robotics Challenge

$3.5 million in prizes at stake as human-robot teams attempt simulated disaster response in June final event.
Campus News  |  Mar 8, 2015  |  By Megan Downs
Media Contact: Megan Downs, Director of Communications, College of Engineering (702) 895-3965
Members of DRC-HUBO @UNLV team working on the robot that will attend the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. (Aaron Mayes / UNLV Photo Services)

A team of UNLV researchers and students will compete in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, (DARPA) Challenge Finals, an elite competition of robots and their human supervisors to be held on June 5-6, 2015 at Fariplex in Pomona, Calif. UNLV was one of just 25 teams worldwide announced as finalists today by DARPA.

In the demonstration event, robots will be tested on capabilities that could enable them to assist first responders during future natural and man-made disasters. UNLV will compete against teams from institutions such as Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Virginia Tech, Lockheed Martin; as well as countries such as Hong Kong, China, Italy, Germany and Japan.

UNLV's team, DRC-HUBO @UNLV, is led by Paul Oh, Lincy Professor for Unmanned Aerial Systems at UNLV. Oh, who is part of the mechanical engineering department in the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, is an internationally renowned expert in robotic and autonomous systems with more than 20 years in the field. Oh leads UNLV's team of post graduate researchers, industry partners, as well as graduate and undergraduate students.

"The scope of work that a robot must execute for the DRC is unprecedented," Oh said. "It is an honor for us at UNLV to be counted among the top roboticists in the world who get to pursue this noble endeavor."

To qualify for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) finals, the UNLV team had to prove its robot is able to engage an emergency shut-off switch, get up from a prone position, traverse 10 meters without falling, pass over a barrier, and rotate a circular valve 360 degrees.

At the challenge in June, the humanoid robot must complete a series of tasks that include crossing rough terrain and debris, climbing stairs, and driving a vehicle. The robot must complete all tasks independently and within one hour, without communicating with the team, being tethered to objects to assist in balance, or using an external power source.

The DRC Finals event is free and open to the public and media. In addition to the competition, an on-site robotics exposition (DRC Expo) will showcase technology related to disaster response, robotics, and unmanned aerial systems, and include an overview of DARPA's mission and legacy. More information about the DRC Finals, the teams, and the DRC Expo can be found at www.theroboticschallenge.org.

UNLV's College of Engineering also is inviting the Southern Nevada community to help name the humanoid robot that will compete at the DRC Finals in June. The team is looking for names that incorporate the robot's mission to save human lives, UNLV ties, Southern Nevada roots, or Las Vegas history. Anyone can submit a name on the College of Engineering's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UNLVEngineering.

Download High-Res Photos