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 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 be tested in three challenges in June 2013, Dec 2013 and finally in Dec 2014 for a $2M prize.