Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Japanese SCHAFT Takes the Gold at DARPA Robot Challenge

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the isaac-hayes-soundtrack dept.

Robotics 51

savuporo writes "The two days of DARPA's humanoid robotics challenge are now over. 16 teams entered in three categories — custom built humanoid, DARPA supplied Atlas platform, and a non-humanoid form — and competed in eight different tasks. The all-Japanese SCHAFT team scored 27 out of 32 maximum points, followed by IHMC Robotics and Tartan Rescue, with 20 and 18 points. The tasks included challenges like driving a vehicle, climbing ladders and walls, using handheld tools to cut through walls, etc. All robots had a mix of autonomy and teleoperated controls to accomplish the tasks. Full details on scores can be found here. The eight teams that scored highest will get continued funding from DARPA to compete in the final challenge in 2014. Two NASA teams also entered, and the JPL-built non-humanoid RoboSimian placed 5th, whereas the JSC built and touted 'Valkyrie' came out of competition with zero points. Team SCHAFT and Boston Dynamics (building the Atlas platform) were recently acquired by Google."Reader mikejuk says the scores "[make] the performance sound better than it actually was": " Each task could take 30 minutes and most of the robots took their time and moved as slow as ice. It seems that the teams were precomputing every move and taking a lot of time rather than getting on with the task as quickly as possible. As a result there is farther to go in creating useful rescue bots than the scores might suggest."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Valkyrie (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45759965)

Looked the coolest but amounted to nothing. It's a wonder that NASA rockets don't break more often

Re:Valkyrie (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760367)

There's a women drivers joke in here somewhere.

Re:Valkyrie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760397)

It looks like they spent all the money on high-end alloys and composites to make it "shiny"

Re: Valkyrie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45764855)

Well, JSC got hit really hard with the sequester and lost 2 weeks of prime robot building time.

They also tried using some unproven actuators that turned out not to mesh well with their control approach.

Valkryie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45759977)

Looked the coolest but amounted to nothing. It is a wonder that NASA rockets don't break more often.

Shut your mouth! (4, Funny)

RussR42 (779993) | about 10 months ago | (#45759983)

I'm talkin' 'bout SCHAFT!

Re:Shut your mouth! (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 10 months ago | (#45760055)

Then we can dig it! And now he really *is* a machine!

Re:Shut your mouth! (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#45760069)

Who's the contest-winning pick that's a metal machine with all the chips?
Can you dig it?
Who is the bot who would win the contest for his brother bot?
Damn right.
That bot SCHAFT is a bad mutha-
Shut yo mouth!

Re:Shut your mouth! (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 10 months ago | (#45760263)

Cultural mis-reference!

Patlabor! I just want to know if the robot was named "Griffin."

Re:Shut your mouth! (2)

Keyboard Rage (3448471) | about 10 months ago | (#45760501)

A somewhat better explanation:

"Schaft" is the European Labor (giant robot) manufacturer that provides most of the antagonist mecha in the anime/manga "Mobile Police Patlabor". The "Patlabor" (from "Patrol Labor") are police robots, made by fictional Japanese company Shinohara Heavy Industries, that help maintain the peace in Tokyo in said franchise. Although "help maintain the peace" is somewhat of an euphemism, considering their tendencies to cause massive property damage... Schaft's most impressive product is the Griffin Labor, a quasi-military model that can fly.

So the Japanese team being named "Schaft" is a reference to Mobile Police Patlabor, and not a African-American. The anime in question, by the way, is rather realistic and has some good character development.

Unfortunately, it is clear that these robots are not using the Shinohara Hyper-Operating System or the experimental Asura OS (the OSes that drive the Labors life-like movements in the anime), considering their clumsiness.

Re:Shut your mouth! (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about 10 months ago | (#45760979)

When I heard that a "Tokyo-based start-up called SCHAFT Inc." was competing in the DARPA challenge my immediate reaction was "Haha, oh man! Are you kidding me?!" Because I couldn't imagine any other possible explanation for the name except an homage to Patlabor.

It'd be funny if the people working on the live action Patlabor film sent the SCHAFT Inc. team some cool merch as a bit of viral cross-promotion. Hehe.

Re:Shut your mouth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45765763)

Somebody should try playing a 100Hz tone near the robot and see what happens.

Re:Shut your mouth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45765789)

To add to this: SCHAFT's robot is based on HRP-2, a robot whose chassis was designed by Yutaka Izubuchi, who also provided the mechanical designs for Patlabor.

Re:Shut your mouth! (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about 10 months ago | (#45765269)

Cultural mis-reference!

Patlabor! I just want to know if the robot was named "Griffin."

SCHAFT's Type J9 code name is "Griffon"

Re:Shut your mouth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760491)

*yawn* just another gyrosploitation event.

Re:Shut your mouth! (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 10 months ago | (#45760895)

One bad mutha of a robot!

someone couldn't wait to post that headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760103)

what is this, FARK?

Re:someone couldn't wait to post that headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760477)

You'll get over it.

Re:someone couldn't wait to post that headline (1)

captjc (453680) | about 10 months ago | (#45761697)

I submitted it with a better headline. "DARPA gets the SCHAFT!"

amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760105)

This is amazing, and it always the same pattern - first sci-fi movie or a book (Jules Verne), then from 10 to 50 years and actual invention follows. Looks like we will have our terminator overlords quite soon.

Team name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760107)

I would guess the team name refers to
Patlabor []


Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760115)

"Help! I'm drowning!"
"Help! Shark!"


blackbeak (1227080) | about 10 months ago | (#45760279)

Hey, these robots are already totally ready for work with road crews -- I mostly saw a lot of just standing around!

Shafted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760169)

I bet the other 5 points will be addressed in the BR release.

What a name for a team! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760179)

The other guys got SCHAFTed!

step away from the throwable camera ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45760185)

this is a robotic response to reports of unrestrained hooliganism. look away from your POT (Personal Open Terminal) but do not leave your station, further instructions to follow. the innocent stem cells remain as hostage with us.

I made it through 6 hours (3, Interesting)

Spiked_Three (626260) | about 10 months ago | (#45760469)

I always have routed for robotics. And I have always been disappointed by them.

Let's talk basics, pre-robotics. Video production 101 at the community college. Whoever put the show on could not sync audio and video, and the final 'closing ceremony' was nothing but a 'technical difficulty' screen. Face it, when we can't use technology to broadcast an event, 60 years after TVs invention, we can not do anything that resembles rescue oriented robotics.

The robots themselves, were lacking. Not the hardware platforms, they seemed ok, but the software sucked. Dabbling around robotics myself, I understand why, and acknowledge the teams efforts. But the fact remains; even for a first attempt, I saw nothing 'promising'. We (as a planet) spend too much emphasis on blinking light arduinos, and far too little time encouraging software skills. Again, from personal experience, I can see how the teams had to use compilers with no remote debugging, probably archaic monolithic code ('C' and Assembler), hard to use cross compiling, and basically the kind of stuff you would only force on a development team if you wanted them to fail.

And while I said I thought the hardware looked OK, I will make an observation; 90% of the time the robots stood there doing nothing, that stupid single LIDAR was spinning its ass off. Was that just to keep its grease warm, or was it indeed a huge bottle neck to have only 1 apparently limited LIDAR? To me, the chassis builder (BDI) should have provided at least 3 LIDARS at varying elevations, and the software to analyse point cloud data and provide solid models of the environment should have been on their own independent processors. I get the feeling entirely too much time was required for the developers to do that themselves. Its something everybody needed to do, it should be provided with the hardware.

Then again, I could be completely wrong. I looked at the simulator code back when it was released but have long since forgotten it. Government funded, intended to be open, but I haven't seen where anyone has published anything. Maybe just too early.

Re:I made it through 6 hours (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 10 months ago | (#45760573)

Well, the first DARPA robotic-driving challenge was an embarrassment as well. Subsequent years saw great improvement, though, as the teams learned from their initial failures.

Re:I made it through 6 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45761199)

Using a compiler toolchain without remote debugging, writing in C or assembly, etc. is 'wanting them to fail'? Get real sonny.

How the heck do you think we wrote (write) control systems for all manner of hugely complex and expensive machines and systems before the inter-tubes and Visual Studio / Eclipse?

It's a testament to the lack of skill and lack of focus of kids nowadays that they want to write robot code in some kind of web 2.0 ruby-nosql-buzzword of the day framework while tweeting to their BFF and posting on Facebook. Ha!

Re: I made it through 6 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45761981)

I have done the c and stuff. But none of the real languages allow me to write a 2d game in half an hour. Optimal would be to use some graphical dnd editor that allows one to use lower level languages to extend it. Speed and power.

Re:I made it through 6 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45762225)

Why shouldn't newer programming languages be used? Especially in projects like this which are not mass produced end products but prototypes? In this case the best choice is the language that makes it as easy as possible to focus on the AI algorithms and just compensate for any slowness with faster hardware. In mass production, it makes sense to consider what impact the language has on hw requirements but that's an entirely different story.

You could just as well argue that they should have used punch cards.

Re:I made it through 6 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45762409)

"How the heck do you think we wrote (write) control systems for all manner of hugely complex and expensive machines and systems before the inter-tubes and Visual Studio / Eclipse?"

Very very very inefficiently and costly I would imagine.

Re:I made it through 6 hours (2)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about 10 months ago | (#45762315)

I always have routed for robotics. And I have always been disappointed by them.

That's because you're using them wrong. Stop using NetBIOS.

Re:I made it through 6 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45762485)

While I concur with most of your statements, and being a robotics "alumnus" (was doing robotics during grad student and got tired of it for multiple reasons), I think you forgot one last thing in your analysis

"Get off my lawn"

Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (1)

satuon (1822492) | about 10 months ago | (#45760663)

The whole concept of humanoid robots is kind of dumb to me. I mean I can get industrial robots, or autonomous vehicles like Google cars, but trying to make a humanoid robot is more like an obsession with dolls than anything. There's a reason the Japanese are best there, and I think it's because nobody else really cares about making moving dolls.

The pragmatic people who are trying to make robots that do useful work don't think about making them look like humans in the first place.

Re:Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (3, Insightful)

dbc (135354) | about 10 months ago | (#45761205)

Here is the counter-argument: Should we remake the human world to accomodate our technology, or design the technology to fit into our world? Humans climb stairs. Your robot should, too. Humans can fold in the middle so that they can ride in the back seat of a car, and furthermore, are self-loading. I don't want to create a whole bunch of infrastructure to coddle some dumb robots. They should adjust to a world that is comfortable for me.

Re:Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (2)

aiadot (3055455) | about 10 months ago | (#45761269)

Yeah, since we're talking about DARPA here, it's much more economical to make a robot that can share some of the hardware like guns and tools with humans than to make new connectors or protocols just for that.

There is also the psychological issue in things like healthcare or costumer service. For many people I think it's safer to say that they'll be more comfortable talking to a robot that looks like as human as possible than some menacing looking robot manipulator on wheels. And I don't think I need to explain why humanoid sexbots will be the best selling sexbots out there.

Finally, even in the case everything I said above turns out not to be important, there is the academic value. Many of the technological advances made for humanoids can be transferred over to other types of robotics.

Re:Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45761223)

Yes, the whole shiny Star Wars looking robots with blue glowing chests is dumb, but there are significant advantages to having a somewhat humanoid robot. I turns the problem from one of specialized industrial robots capable of mass producing widgets to one that can navigate your house, put away groceries, feed the dogs - all with the same robot.

One is specialized like single use devices - a DLSR for example - to the other, a smartphone capable of pictures, though not as good, a navigation device, an entertainment unit, a voice recorder, a book, a game unit, a crowd sourced weather prediction unit, a cookbook, etc, etc, etc. No need to by a roomba and a robomow, one device will turn the tools you already own and use into automatic machines.

Say you had a stack of bricks that you needed to move to the other side of the yard. You could do it yourself in 6 hours or have one of these machines start up Wednesday morning and work 72 hours freeing up your Saturday an avoiding a sprained back.

Re:Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45770605)

Rent a fork truck.

Re:Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (4, Insightful)

blincoln (592401) | about 10 months ago | (#45761291)

I believe the idea with humanoid robots is that if you have to deploy a robot into an unforeseen and dangerous situation, having a robot with a humanoid form means it's more likely to be able to do all of the things that a human could do, and get into all of the same places.

E.g. if you have a nuclear reactor emergency - especially in an older facility - most of the controls are going to be designed for a human to operate, like the valve wheels depicted in some of the challenges in this contest, and at least some of the building is only going to be accessible through doorways, stairways, ladders, and crawlspaces designed for humans.

It's the same with operating an arbitrary vehicle (another one of the challenges). Just about any vehicle that's going to be available in an ad-hoc situation is going to be built for use by someone with at least two arms and two legs, with hands that have opposing thumbs, and which is somewhere within 20-30% of 2 meters tall (or their eyes won't be able to see anything).

Sure, you could try to build all of your critical infrastructure in ways that would allow non-humanoid robots to operate it easily as well, but that doesn't take care of all of the legacy stuff that's out there, and will be out there indefinitely.

You could also build a variety of robots that are specialized to do one or more of those things without being humanoid, but that robot probably won't do very well in the other types of situations this contest is intended to simulate.

Once they work a *lot* better, and are intuitively controllable via telepresence, I can really see some commercial applications of this too. One or two telepresence androids available for remote use sitting in a datacenter would be better in some ways than having iLO cards in every physical server. Just about anything that involves a remote, un-staffed facility becomes a lot easier if your workers can "teleport" there by android instantly when something goes wrong.

My ex girlfriend... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 10 months ago | (#45760891)

Wanted a SCHAFT robot. I got her one, then she dumped me.

Quake (1)

Rational (1990) | about 10 months ago | (#45760901)

The competition accept the SCHAFT.

Better Headline (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#45761263)

"DARPA gets the SCHAFT"

Here's the missing video (5, Informative)

7-Vodka (195504) | about 10 months ago | (#45761991)

Here's the missing video for those of us who want to see it in action: []

Re:Here's the missing video (2)

tibman (623933) | about 10 months ago | (#45762465)

That was great! I tried watching the full competition videos and it was just too painful. Watching a robot stare at a door for minutes at a time and moving so slow it could just be entropy.

Re:Here's the missing video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45766943)

There is no way I'm clicking on that link. A video of SCHAFT in action?! Nice try, buddy!

More of what really happened (1)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#45762187)

Most of the discussion so far has been rather lame. But there's detailed video of everything. Not that silly feed for the general public, but the detail videos. [] For each event, there's video from four cameras - three watching the robot, and one watching the operators, presented as a four-quadrant image. That's all on line, unedited, 9 hours a day from each camera, no audio. In there, you can see what's really happening.

Most of the time, the robots are being teleoperated. DARPA introduced substantial lag (100ms during "good comms" periods, 1 second during "bad comms" periods, alternating once a minute) and bandwidth limits (1,000,000 bps each direction during "good comms" periods, 100,000 bps during "bad comms" periods.) This was to prevent excessive teleoperation and encourage autonomy. What they mostly got was really slow teleoperation. Event time limits were very generous and scoring wasn't time based. Many of the events were dumbed down from the original specs. DARPA wanted some successes.

Watch the debris removal task by Team Schaft [] starting at 02:33:00. That's one of the better runs. It's really slow, but the operator isn't constantly teleoperating. Once in a while the operator pushes a button. Some other teams used game controllers.

Re:More of what really happened (1)

Spiked_Three (626260) | about 10 months ago | (#45762455)

No, not at all.

From the DARPA page at []

"development of robots featuring task-level autonomy that can operate in the hazardous, degraded conditions "


"Task-level autonomy is the opposite of tele-operation"

The tele-operation was something like "open door", no team used game controllers for tele-operations.

They also used a game controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45762575)

Look at the guy on the left put down the game controller (PS3 style) on the left side of the table when the robot cleared.

He was using the gamepad and from time to time use the keyboard to grab/move/release the "hand".

SHAFT is the MAX! (1)

UglyMike (639031) | about 10 months ago | (#45762385)

SHAFT won and he did all the tasks walking BACKWARD!! How cool is that!

Yaya is cute, Yaya is cutest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45763113)

> using handheld tools to cut through walls

I, for one, welcome or new katana-wielding nekomimi overladies!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?