Other changes from the trials include that the eight tasks must be performed in sequence, so that getting stuck on any one task disqualifies the team from performing the remaining tasks. Also less information will be given out about the tasks, and one task will be a complete surprise, which no team will be notified about ahead of time. Four identical courses will be set up at Fairplex so that simultaneous runs can be made. Each team will be given two chances, with their best score counting, and the surprise task will be different on each day of the two-day event. Ties will be broken by the total time elapsed performing their tasks.
DARPA started with 16 teams at the December 2013 trials, which included tasks such as driving a vehicle and cutting hole in wall. Eleven of those 16 teams were prequalified to participate in the finals, however one -- Team Schaft (Japan) was bought by Google and has since dropped out but Team Thor from Viginia Tech made up the difference by splitting into two teams, Team Valor which remains at Virginia Tech and the new Team THOR at the University of California. At least 13 self-funded teams, including three new teams sponsored by the European Union and the governments of Japan and Korea, are expected to be added by submitting video tapes (in February 2015) proving their robots can complete the basic tasks needed, for approximately 24 teams competing for the $2 million purse in June 2015.
The 11 finalists so far are:
- IHMC Robotics (Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, Pensacola, Florida)
- Tartan Rescue (Carnegie Mellon University, National Robotics Engineering Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
- Team MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.)
- RoboSimian (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California)
- Team TRACLabs (TRACLabs, Inc., Webster, Texas)
- Team WPI-CMU (formerly Team WRECS, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.)
- Team Trooper (Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories, Cherry Hill, NJ)
- Team ViGIR (TORC Robotics and Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.; TU Darmstadt, Germany; Oregon State University, Corvallis)
- Team THOR (University of California, Los Angeles)
- Team Valor (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.)
- Team KAIST (Daejeon Metro City, Republic of Korea)
The finals will be open to the public on June 15 through June 16, 2015 in the Fairplex, Pomona, Calif. with stands set up for at least 2,000 spectators. After the finals, DARPA expects to take the winning teams on a world tour performing exhibition events.
The total budget DARPA is spending on the Robotics Challenge is $95 million.
Also don't forget that the Robot Olympics will run alongside the 2020 Olympic Summer Games (for humans), which will be hosted in Tokyo.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times