Greek Scientist’s ‘Walk-Man’ in Major Robotics Competition

Nikos Tsagarakis

23 robot systems and software teams from the US, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Italy took part in the “Robotics Challenge” held at Fairplex in Pomona, California, from June 5 to 6.

The DRC finals, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense, required robots to attempt a circuit of consecutive physical tasks with degraded communications between them and their operators.

The winning team that received the $2 million grand prize was Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). American teams took second and third place while a German robot took fourth. The robotic creation of Greek scientist Nikos Tsagkarakis from the Department of Advanced Robotics from Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova, Italy, ranked in the 17th place.

“We started working hard for the competition with a half-year delay after my team received a call directly from DARPA. Given our late entry to the competition with Walk-Man robot, I am very satisfied with our performance,” said Tsagkarakis.

“We had been working on the design and development of Walk-Man from March 2014 to February 2015. This is definitely a world record, given the complexity and expertise required to develop such a system. We only had three months to develop our software and participate in the DRC finals. Before that, we successfully passed all the tests required to participate, with just two weeks testing the robot. Under these circumstances, the participation of Walk-Man was more than a success and today our robot is considered to be one of the best in the world, having great potential for the future,” the Greek scientist added.

According to Tsagkarakis, the DARPA challenge has shown that humanoid robots are no longer science fiction and Europe is no longer inferior to the US, Japan and Korea regarding the development of humanoid robotics technologies.