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 18 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.

Robot Tests:

Over the next few days (May 21-24), we will be running Atlas through a battery of tests outside of MIT building N9. If you are interested in a possible robot sighting, this would be a good opportunity. The exact schedule is subject to change (due to weather, and/or software/hardware debugging), but we will try to update the status here:

  • Update: we are having electrical issues. The robot is down. Tests are delayed until we can resolve it.
  • We are currently planning to test outside today (Saturday, May 23) for most of the day, starting around noon. Atlas will be practicing driving (and getting out of the car) in the early afternoon, and walking around doing more tasks in the afternoon.
  • We are currently planning to test outside today (Friday, May 22) from approximately 2pm til early evening. Check back here for updates.

Recent News:

  • - April 2014: The Needham High School Robotics Club came to visit the lab with some custom "surprise" challenge tasks for Atlas.
  • - April 2014: We had a visit from TIME magazine to our lab in MIT where Scott overviewed the robot and our approach.
  • - February 2014: Related publication: M. Fallon, S. Kuindersma, S. Karumanchi, M. Antone, T. Schneider, H. Dai, C. Pérez D'Arpino, R. Deits, M. DiCicco, D. Fourie, T. Koolen, P. Marion, M. Posa, A. Valenzuela, K. Yu, J. Shah, K. Iagnemma, R. Tedrake, S. Teller. An Architecture for Online Affordance-based Perception and Whole-body Planning, May 2014. MIT CSAIL Technical Report 2014-003.
  • - January 2014: Related publication accepted: S. Kuindersma, F. Permenter, R. Tedrake. An Efficiently Solvable Quadratic Program for Stabilizing Dynamic Locomotion. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Hong Kong, China, May 2014.
  • - January 2014: Related publication accepted: R. Tedrake, M. Fallon, S. Karumanchi, S. Kuindersma, M. Antone, T. Schneider, T. Howard, M. Walter, H. Dai, R. Deits, M. Fleder, D. Fourie, R. Hammoud, S. Hemachandra, P. Ilardi, C. Perez-D'Arpino, S. Pillai, A. Valenzuela, C. Cantu, C. Dolan, I. Evans, S. Jorgensen, J. Kristeller, J. A. Shah, K. Iagnemma, S. Teller. A Summary of Team MIT's Approach to the Virtual Robotics Challenge. Video abstract. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Hong Kong, China, May 2014.
  • - December 2013: Our team of 20 undergraduates, graduates, 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: