Achieving reliable humanoid robot operations in the DARPA robotics challenge: Team WPI-CMU’s approach

Christopher G. Atkeson, P. W.Babu Benzun, Nandan Banerjee, Dmitry Berenson, Christoper P. Bove, Xiongyi Cui, Mathew DeDonato, Ruixiang Du, Siyuan Feng, Perry Franklin, Michael A. Gennert, Joshua P. Graff, Peng He, Aaron Jaeger, Joohyung Kim, Kevin Knoedler, Lening Li, Chenggang Liu, Xianchao Long, Felipe PolidoX. Xinjilefu, Taşkın Padır

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) required participating human-robot teams to integrate mobility, manipulation, perception and operator interfaces to complete a simulated disaster mission. We describe our approach to the development of manipulation and locomotion capabilities for the humanoid robot atlas unplugged developed by Boston Dynamics. We focus on our approach, results and lessons learned from the DRC Finals to demonstrate our strategy including extensive operator practice, explicit monitoring for robot errors, adding additional sensing, and enabling the operator to control and monitor the robot at varying degrees of abstraction. Our safety-first strategy worked: we avoided falling and remote operators could safely recover from difficult situations. We were the only team in the DRC Finals that attempted all tasks, scored points (14/16), did not require physical human intervention (a reset), and did not fall in the two missions during the two days of tests. We also had the most consistent pair of runs. We ranked 3rd out of 23 teams when the scores from two official runs were averaged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpringer Tracts in Advanced Robotics
Number of pages37
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSpringer Tracts in Advanced Robotics
ISSN (Print)1610-7438
ISSN (Electronic)1610-742X

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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