From June 17-21, 2013, teams in DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge tested software designs to control a simulated ATLAS robot in a three-dimensional, virtual environment through a series of tasks modeled on what activities might be required in a real disaster response situation. The test environment, the DARPA Simulator, was developed for DARPA by the Open Source Robotics Foundation. The Simulator monitors and displays the physical and sensory behaviors of robots in real time. Data communication between the virtual robot and the teams was varied to reflect degraded communications in an actual disaster zone. Twenty-six teams from eight countries qualified to compete, and up to six winning teams will receive funding and an ATLAS robot from DARPA to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials in December 2013.
The Simulator uses physics-based models of inertia, actuation, contact and environment dynamics to simulate a robot’s motion through an environment. Following the DARPA Robotics Challenge, DARPA intends for the Simulator to be a legacy tool for the robotics community, available for broad use to support invention of robot applications.