DRC Finals Updates (1-6 June 2015):

  • Saturday: Second of our runs is at 1.30pm PST. Watch at theroboticschallenge.org
  • Friday: In the first of our runs we scored 7 points and finished in 4th place.
  • Thursday: Rehearsal run: We had problems getting going but walked freestanding for a full hour! Drove and walked the whole course.
  • Wednesday: Practice Day: 2 hours of testing with Boston Dynamics' 30kg Lithium battery went very well. That gives us juice for over an hour.
  • Tuesday: Practice Day: Bright and early practicing the egress task. Then drilling and valves. Testing the competition network and team photos.
  • Monday: Unpacked our kit and set up. Russ and Pat had a walkthrough on the competition courses. Terrain testing.
  • Sunday: Our team arrived in Pomona via LAX, Ontario and Long Beach airports!

This is the video of MIT’s first DRC Finals Run (Friday 6th). We scored 7 points and are now fourth. We were awarded one point for falling out of the car after our run.

  • Due to operator error we fell from the car - the foot was 'throttled' from driving during the egress.
  • The right arm broke after the fall.
  • The joint readings used poorer sensors as a result, hence the poor door opening.
  • With no right arm we could not turn on the drill (normally bi-handed).
  • After entering the door the network communication results in camera and LIDAR drop outs.
  • The course typically requires use of the right arm so we had to switch on the fly to the left to switch the surprise box lever.

Photos from the DRC Finals - June 2015. Left, Other Teams. Right, Competition

About the Darpa Robotics Challenge

MIT is competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge with the amazing Atlas robot built by Boston Dynamics. We are developing algorithms and user interfaces to control the robot and to aid a human operator paired with the robot to carry out a series of manipulation and mobility tasks.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) is motivated by disasters such as the Fukushima Daiichi hydrogen explosion and the Deepwater Horizon underwater oil spill. The key goal is to develop a dexterous mobile robot that can move through and within disaster zones and perform useful tasks, with minimal guidance from remote human operators remaining safely out of harm’s way.

In competition with dozens of other academic and industry teams, we must enable the humanoid robot (supplied by DARPA) to walk over uneven terrain, climb stairs and ladders, enter and drive a small utility vehicle, handle debris and other objects, and use tools. These skills will tested in a Grand Final in June 2015 for a $2M prize.


  • June 2015: We have unpacked the robot at the Pomona Fairplex in Los Angeles. Getting prepared for the Finals this week!
  • March 2015: In Charleston, SC our team sees DARPA's plans for a 1 hour course involving all the 8 challenge tasks in one sequence.
  • January 2015: Boston Dynamics dramatically upgrade the robot: moving all computing onboard and supporting operation with a 1 hour battery.
  • December 2013: Our team of 20 undergraduates and graduate students, post-docs, research scientists and professors traveled to Homestead, Florida for the DRC Trials. In sunny but windy conditions we competed against 16 other world leading teams and finished in 4th place. As a result we now continue to be funded through to the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in mid 2015.
  • June 2013: We finished in 3rd place, from 26 teams, in the Simulated Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) and won funding and the use of a Boston Dynamics Atlas for the next stage.
  • July 2012: Our proposal was accepted and our team began to be formed.
  • April 2012: DARPA Robotics Challenge competition announced.

  • This playlist summarises our team's progress and approach: