South Koreans triumph in US robot challenge

June 7, 2015
The humanoid robot 'DRC-Hubo' developed by Team KAIST from South Korea completes a task before winning the finals of the DARPA R
The humanoid robot 'DRC-Hubo' developed by Team KAIST from South Korea completes a task before winning the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge at the Fairplex complex in Pomona, California on June 6, 2015

South Korean boffins carried home the $2 million top prize Saturday after their robot triumphed in a disaster-response challenge inspired by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan.

Team KAIST and its DRC-Hubo took the honor ahead of Team IHMC Robotics and Tartan Rescue, both from the United States, at the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) after a two-day competition in California.

The runners-up win $1 million and $500,000 respectively, in a field of more than 20 competitors.

But it is about more than just the money, with the teams also winning the kudos of triumphing after a three-year robotics contest organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which commissions advanced research for the US Defense Department.

Over the two days, each robot had two chances to compete on an obstacle course comprising eight tasks, including driving, going through a door, opening a valve, punching through a wall and dealing with rubble and stairs.

The challenges facing them in Pomona, just east of Los Angeles, were designed specifically with Fukushima in mind and were meant to simulate conditions similar to the disaster at the nuclear plant.

In all, 24 mostly human-shaped bots and their teams—12 from the United States, five from Japan, three from South Korea, two from Germany and one each from Italy and Hong Kong—won through to the finals.

But it was Team KAIST's latest version of its HUBO—"HUmanoid roBOt"—which emerged victorious, pipping its competitors from the United States to the $2 million paycheck.

The robot named 'Running Man' developed by Team IHMC Robotics successfully opens a door during the finals of the DARPA Robotics
The robot named 'Running Man' developed by Team IHMC Robotics successfully opens a door during the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge at the Fairplex complex in Pomona, California, on June 5, 2015

All three scored eight points but HUBO was six minutes ahead of Running Man (Atlas) from IHMC Robotics and over 10 minutes quicker than Tartan Rescue's CHIMP.

HUBO has been developed since 2002 and weighs 80 kilos (175 pounds), while standing 180 centimeters (70 inches) tall.

The robot named 'Meccano' (L) and others watch the action during the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge at the Fairplex comp
The robot named 'Meccano' (L) and others watch the action during the finals of the DARPA Robotics Challenge at the Fairplex complex in Pomona, California on June 6, 2015

The team—from the South Korean city of Daejeon—says the robot's "uniqueness" is that it can transform from a standing position to a kneeling one designed for wheeled and fast motion.

Not all competitors were so successful, with several malfunctioning or taking a clattering tumble.

Explore further: European teams demonstrate progress in emergency response robotics since Fukushima disaster

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nilbud
5 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
We have to find a better place to have these competitions. The US military causes disasters and they will only use these systems to cause more civilian deaths. Might as well be the NAZI prize.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
We have a LONG way to go before we can find a way to even SEE what happened to the former reactor vessels at Fukushima. The 40-year estimate is now seen to perhaps take 200 years.

Now, with volcanoes and more earthquakes, the Prime Minister, funded by Big Money, wants to restart more deadly nukes, against the wishes of his own people.

We will need an army of robots to do it, then they can take over the rest of us.
xstos
not rated yet Jun 07, 2015
They (the japanese) should've bought canadian nuclear reactors. Much safer than that GE crap. They also declared 9.0 quakes statistically impossible, which led them to build 2m tall tsunami walls. They put all the backup generators (which canadian reactors don't need) where they can be flooded, so all that latent heat had nowhere to go even though the reactor had safely shut down. Leaving one of these badly designed PWRs with no power and all that heat caused the known problem of hydrogen leakage into the outer building which eventually exploded as the moderator heated up and evaporated causing the core to melt down homer simpson style.

All these problems were known since the 70s but the politicians played russian roulette instead.

I contend nuclear reactors don't kill people as direct deaths from nuclear accidents are still remarkably low compared to fossil fuel plant accidents or spills. People however kill nuclear reactors quie convincingly.
xstos
not rated yet Jun 07, 2015
Correction: In my previous post I meant BWR not PWR.

I do leave you with this scary thought however. The USA is covered in reactors with the same shitty-type designs (no passive cooling in emergency situations) so if there is ever an epic power failure either via solar EMP, nuclear bombs, giant earthquake causing utilities damage, or any such breakdown in the energy sector, the backup generators of all those PWRs will eventually fail and the exact same thing will happen.

Talk about bad designs lol...

The human tragedy is to never ask enough what ifs. It happens in my job surrounded by talented software engineers as well. They never ask enough what ifs, and they basically sell software that has a high probability of failure by design (or lack of it).

The funny thing I often wonder is if the reactor was doomed to overheat, why didn't they just restart it so it can power its own cooling systems. The backups may have been flooded, but why not just produce primary power instead.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
"Leaving one of these badly designed PWRs . . "
----------------------------------------

These were GE Mark I BWRs. And the hydrogen was generated by the core melting, with the zirconium reacting with the water at very high temperatures. But the rest of it is correct, and we still do not know where the molten blobs of core and reactor vessel, ("Corium"), reside, or their condition. We just keep pumping hundreds of tons of water over them every day, hoping they will stay cool.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
There was never any question of whether these devices and Rube Goldberg systems are safe: I helped to test some of the critical components.

We do not need some Faustian Bargain, a pact with the Devil to get our power. Give up the silly dream of Magic Boxes which let us cheat and get all the power we want with no consequences.
xstos
5 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
They knew about the hydrogen problem back then too, and were too lazy to even install scrubbers, probably because they always assumed the backups would work and the scary scenario would never happen. Again not enough what ifs. Humans are terrible at honestly facing the worst case scenario and designing/planning around it.
xstos
5 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
We do not need some Faustian Bargain, a pact with the Devil to get our power.


The deal has already been done. Now we're paying for the consequences. Slower fossil-fuel extinction, non-zero risk of nuclear complications worldwide, inability to store solar/wind at scale without Musk's dirty batteries etc. We can only mitigate now. People won't give up their conveniences without a worldwide energy crisis no matter how much we want to believe it. The trillions in banker bailouts could've secured energy independent households, but politicians would never let that happen. Humanity is its own worst enemy.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
Why do nuke apologists never bring up Fukushima? Is it because they said it could not happen?

"Defense in Depth"??

Some scientists are now projecting it will not take 40 years of very expensive clean up, . . . it will take 200!

http://www.thetim...4978.ece
PhysicsMatter
not rated yet Jun 08, 2015
For those interested in completely different unique take on nuclear power in context of renewable energy debate as well as utter failure in development of robotics in application to extreme condition technological disasters like Deep Horizon or Fukushima see:

https://sostratus...lusions/

So far all those phony competitions are for nothing but arising misguided child like egotistic emotions and fantasies of those who crated them.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 08, 2015
Humans are terrible at honestly facing the worst case scenario and designing/planning around it.

It's even worse that that: Even if we could foresee all conceivable scenarios (which we can't) - ensuring safety against all of them would make the structure so costly that it would defeat the purpose.
And then we're still only talking unintentional/natural occurences. Not planned sabotage or similar.

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