A team of roboticists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology claimed a $2 million prize on Saturday that was offered by a Pentagon research agency for developing a mobile robot capable of operating in hazardous environments.

Twenty-five teams of university and corporate roboticists competed for the prize, which was first given in 2012 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The robots were graded on their ability to complete eight tasks, including driving a vehicle, opening a door, operating a portable drill, turning a valve and climbing stairs, all in the space of an hour.

The Korean victory is a validation of the work of JunHo Oh, the designer of the Hubo family of humanoid robots that he has developed since 2002.

The winning Hubo is a clever machine that can kneel and drive on wheels in addition to walking !

The event was inspired by the challenge posed by the nuclear disaster in 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant complex in Japan, where workers were forced to flee before completely shutting it down after an earthquake and tsunami.

Dr. Pratt has argued that if teleoperated robots had been available after the quake, the nuclear plant meltdowns would have been avoidable.

“During the first day or two, things could have been different, the disaster could have been mitigated,” he said. “If only there had been some way to go in there despite the power being off and operate some of the emergency equipment they had.” 

Overall, five Japanese teams entered the contest this year, along with teams from the United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany, South Korean and Italy.



The DRC is a competition of robot systems and software teams vying to develop robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters. Participating teams, representing some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world, are collaborating and innovating on a very short timeline to develop the hardware, software, sensors, and human-machine control interfaces that will enable their robots to complete a series of challenge tasks selected by DARPA for their relevance to disaster response.

Visit DARPA website: Here

Watch Hubo in action: Here

Source: NYTimes