Professor Katie Byl’s UCSB Robotics Lab and students Brian Satzinger, Peter Ha, and Howard Hu compete on a “Track B” team consisting of Jet Propulsion Laboratory / UCSB / Caltech. The team finished in fifth place at the cloud-based VRC competition designed to test teams’ abilities to accomplish a subset of physical Challenge tasks through simulation of a robot.
The VRC is a competition to develop software (no hardware) and compete in a computer simulation between “Track B” initially funded by DARPA teams and “Track C” own expense teams. All teams were evaluated based on effective operator control of the robots in a subset of the DARPA Robotics Competition (DRC) Trials tasks, as well as addressing the areas of robot perception, manipulation, and locomotion. Specifically, the tasks tested were driving a utility vehicle; walking across progressively more difficult terrain (Byl’s Robotics Lab contribution focus); and attaching a hose connector to a spigot and turning a nearby valve.
“Track A” teams developing their own robot and software will compete with “B and C Teams” at the DRC Trials in December 2013. The Trials are the first physical competition and are the second of the three DRC events. Selected teams from the DRC Trials will then move on to the 2014 DRC Finals in December 2014.
The top six “Track B and C” teams from the VRC each earned ≤ 750k funding and an ATLAS robot from DARPA. This year’s VRC added three more teams for a total of nine to the DRC Trials. One of the teams benefited when the Jet Propulsion Laboratory decided to merge their “Track A” Team with their “Track B” JPL / UCSB / Caltech team.