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CRADA Brings Polaris Vehicles

One of the hardest tasks for robots in the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials was driving. During the DRC Finals, the 25 competing robots and teams will face the driving task again, and this time it will be even more difficult. Are they up to the challenge? Thanks to a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) DARPA signed with Polaris, the teams have a new opportunity to succeed.

The benefits of CRADAs such as these extend beyond individual events or programs. In this case, data generated by the robots and their human operators will be collected to improve potential future use of robots and vehicles in these types of situations by both industry and government.

Polaris has worked with each selected team to be sure the Limited Edition DARPA RANGER XP 900 EPS physically accommodates their robots. This meant removing the front part of the rollover protection structure to accommodate larger robots, and adjusting throttle controls for others. The vehicles also feature a bench seat and tilt steering to provide ample room for robots to operate them. In addition, all of the vehicles were customized with safety features to keep the robots-and spectators-out of harm's way. The new technology allows DRC officials to slow a vehicle at a controlled speed to keep the robots safely inside.

The DRC Finals are meant to mimic real disaster-response situations in which robots would use real tools. Robots will be challenged to drive the Polaris vehicle on a roadway and weave their way around obstacles. This year, teams can score an additional point by having their robots successfully exit the vehicle, a tricky task for a robot. For the teams that attempt it, this task is bound to be one of the most challenging in the DRC.

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 09:27