DARPA International Robotics Challenge Won by University of Nevada and Reno Team | News from Carson City, Nevada

The CERBERUS team at the University of Nevada, Reno dominated a stellar peloton of eight international robotics teams to win the DARPA Subterranean Challenge and $ 2 million in prizes.

The competition lasted three years and spanned several locations with four competitions that tested the abilities of engineers to develop a system of walking and flying robots equipped with multimodal perception systems, autonomous navigation and mapping, and auto network communications. -organized that allow robust and reliable communications. navigation, exploration, cartography and search for objects in complex underground environments, degraded by detection, rigorous, dynamic and raw.

At the final event, which took place on September 24, DARPA designed an environment involving branches representing the three underground challenges of “tunnel circuit”, “urban circuit” and “cave circuit”. The robots were to explore, search for objects or “artifacts” of interest and report their precise location in underground tunnels, metro-like infrastructure, and caves and natural paths with extremely confined geometries, difficult terrain and degradation. severe visual – including dense smoke.

The CERBERUS team deployed a diverse set of robots, the main systems being four ANYmal C leg systems. In the final event awards round, the team won the competition and scored 23 points by detecting and by correctly locating 23 of the 40 artifacts that DARPA had placed in the environment. The second team, “CSIRO Data61” also scored 23 points but reported the last artifact slightly further behind to DARPA, so the tie-bring was in favor of the CERBERUS team. The third team, “MARBLE” scored 18 points.

“This competition brought together the best from around the world,” said Dean of Engineering College Manos Maragakis. “On the world stage, Professor Alexis and his team have won top honors, advancing their vital research and in so doing, paving the way for a better future for us all. Their hard work and dedication is not only an inspiration but also an indication of the globally competitive engineering and computer science education offered at the College of Engineering and the success of the one of the areas of strategic research interest at the College, the one we created and supported over 10 years ago. . “

Maragakis added that, for years, the College of Engineering has built a team of dedicated faculty and students to advance robotics research through collaboration that extends beyond campus.

“The College of Engineering is focused on creating a robotics center by bringing together the talent of professors and students from other engineering departments but also from other colleges,” said Maragakis. “The success of this competition will be a major inspiration for the success of this effort.”

The CERBERUS team is an international consortium involving the University of Nevada, Reno, ETH Zurich, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of Oxford, Flyability and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The team leader is Professor Kostas Alexis, from the Department of Cyber ​​Engineering at the University of Norway, who acquired the grant when he was a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno, and retained his role. team leader since. See the video here.

The leadership of the team also involves Prof. Dr. Marco Hutter (Robotic Systems Lab, ETH Zurich), Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart (Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zurich), Prof. Dr. Mark Mueller (UC Berkeley), Prof. Maurice Fallon (Oxford), Adrien Briod (Flyability), Prof. Dr. Eelke Folmer (UNR) and officers of Sierra Nevada Corporation.

CERBERUS stands for “Collaborative walking & flying Robots for autonomous ExploRation in Underground Settings” and, over the three years of the project, has developed a team of legged and aerial robots capable of autonomously exploring various underground environments such as underground mines and the tunnels, the metropolitan basement. infrastructures and networks of natural caves. After having successfully completed the Circuit des Tunnels and the Circuit Urbain du DARPA Subterranean Challenge, Team CERBERUS qualified for the Final Round (the “Circuit des Cavernes” scheduled for early 2020 has been canceled due to the Covid pandemic -19).

The CERBERUS project started on September 18, 2018 and is based on funding of up to $ 4.275 million for the three phases of the project and the possibility of winning the additional reward of $ 2 million at the final event.

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge was one of the few types of global robotic competition events pushing the boundaries of resilient autonomy and calling on teams to develop new and innovative solutions capable of helping critical sectors such as research personnel. and rescue and industry in areas such as mining and beyond. The level of achievement of the CERBERUS team is best understood by looking at all the competitors in the “systems competition” of the final round. The participating teams included members of the best international institutions, namely:

– CERBERUS (Score = 23): University of Nevada, Reno, ETH Zurich, NTNU, University of California Berkeley, Oxford Robotics Institute, Flyability, Sierra Nevada Corporation

– CSIRO Data61 (Score = 23): CSIRO, Emesent, Georgia Institute of Technology

– MARBLE (Score = 18): University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, Scientific Systems Company, University of California Santa Cruz

– Explorer (Score = 17): Carnegie Mellon University, Oregon State University

– CoSTAR (Score = 13): NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, MIT, KAIST, Lulea University of Technology

– CTU-CRAS-NORLAB (Score = 7): Czech Technological University, Laval University

– Coordinated robotics (score = 2): coordinated robotics, California State University Channel Islands, Oke Onwuka, Sequoia Middle School

– Robotika (Score = 2): Robotika International, Robotika.cz, Czech University of Life Sciences, Field Robotics Center, Cogito team

“We congratulate all members of the CERBERUS team and we are proud of this incredible and historic achievement,” said Alexis. “Most importantly, we are thrilled to be a part of this incredible community that is pushing the frontier of resilient robotic autonomy in extreme environments.”

Through this dedication to collaboration and hands-on mentoring, Alexis built a team strong enough to overcome obstacles and win the DARPA SubTChallenge.

“I remember Kostas initially had reservations about even applying for the DARPA challenge as he had to compete with teams from the best universities in the world who had better students and many more resources,” said the president of the DARPA. computer science and engineering department, Eelke Folmer. . “He was able to attract and build an incredible team of students to help him compete.

“Kostas really stood out as a mentor and he treated his students very well, whether they were graduate students, undergraduates or high school students interning in his lab during the course of the year. ‘summer. Kostas’ office was literally an office in the middle of his lab, which allowed him to spend a lot of time with his students. Instead of his students working for him, he was there to help students and, together, solve AI’s toughest challenges. He took time for each student and cared deeply for them. Its growing reputation in the robotics community has helped it attract students from top universities.

Writer Mike Wolterbeek is a communications officer at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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