Starting in 2003, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has sponsored a series of "grand challenges" in the robotics area, with the goal of promoting new technological advances, new research approaches, and a new focus on systems level integration. The first two challenges focused on autonomous cars racing over a 200 km distance in the desert, while in the third challenge, autonomous cars competed in an urban driving environment. These three challenges lead to autonomous car industry. The fourth challenge focused on robotics for disaster management. The fifth challenge, which is currently in progress, focuses on the autonomous exploration of very large underground spaces by teams of autonomous robots.
The California Institute of Technology, and the seminar speaker, has participated in all of these challenges. The first part of the talk will review the history of the first four challenges, and Caltech's technology. The second part of the talk will focus on the current challenge: the SubTerranean challenge. In this challenge, teams of autonomous robots must rapidly search previously unseen underground spaces (such as tunnels, caves, and underground cities) to find particular objects, accurately and rapidly report the location of these objects, and map the underground space. Some of the technical challenges and our preliminary technical solutions to these problems will be presented.
Contact Person: Prof. P. Fiorini
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