CMU robot places 3rd in national competition

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – A Carnegie Mellon University robot has placed third in a national competition sponsored by the Defense Department.

Seventeen humanoid robots competed Friday and Saturday at Homestead Miami Speedway in Miami for how well they can complete tasks such as driving an all-terrain vehicle and opening doors. The goal is to make robots that could function in disaster zones that are dangerous to humans, such as nuclear accidents.

The CMU robot called CHIMP – for CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform – had a score of 18 out of 32, just behind IHMC from Pensacola, Fla. at 20. Schaft, Inc., a Japanese company that was recently bought by Google, was the leader with 27 points. A team from MIT was fourth with 16 points.

The top eight teams are now eligible for more funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and will compete in a final competition next December.

In a statement Sunday, Carnegie Mellon said DARPA has $8 million budgeted for the teams in the next phase and intends to spread the money evenly. The school said that DARPA had previously supplied $3 million in funding, and a core group of about 10 people have worked full-time on the project for a little more than a year.

CHIMP had a perfect score in three tasks – cutting a hole in a wall, removing wood debris and closing a series of valves. The robot is about five feet tall and weighs about 400 pounds. Like other robots in the competition, CHIMP gets some commands from humans but also has the ability to make limited decisions.

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