Robots Walking, Robots Toppling, and other Photos from the DARPA Robotics Challenge

Team VALOR's ESCHER robot walking at the DRC

Most of the teams at the DRC at least attempted to drive across the opening stretch of the challenge course, using Polaris utility vehicles. But, for various reasons (including the difficulty of getting out of the vehicle), the first heat of four teams chose to let their robots walk. That included Team VALOR, the Virginia Tech team whose robot we featured in a 2013 cover story, back when it was called THOR, with an innovative, human-mimicking actuator technology that pegged it as a possible frontrunner. Two years and a major personnel shuffle later (the team's original leader, Dennis Hong, left for UCLA, and took much of his lab with him), the rebranded ESCHER had one of the most impressive bipedal gaits at the DRC, but still fell repeatedly, and failed to finish the course during its two runs. Erik Sofge

When it came to pratfalls, the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) did not disappoint. The roughly three-year competition to build disaster-ready robots came to a head last weekend at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, and much of the coverage of the event has focused on robots falling over. Fair enough. But there was more to the DRC than the mingled joy and pain of watching anthropomorphic machines destroy themselves in front of a gasping crowd. Here’s a closer look at how this landmark contest played out.

RoboSimian robot at rest in the DRC Team Garage
Closeup of RoboSimian's Robot Claws
Team MIT's Uniform T-Shirt With a Dragon on the Back
Metal Rebel humanoid robot in the DRC Team Garage
RoboSimian humanoid robot egressing at the DRC
NASA's Valkyrie humanoid robot in a running pose at the DRC
THOR humanoid robot falls at the DRC competition
Jaxon humanoid robot in the DRC Team Garage with a sling on its arm
CHIMP humanoid robot recovers at the DRC with photographers around it
Team Tartan smiling at the DRC
Tartan Rescue member pets robot CHIMP at the DRC
Team IHMC's Atlas Running Man robot celebrates at the DRC
Team IHMC launches T-shirts and wears blue body suits at the DRC
Team IHMC's Running Man humanoid robot falls at the DRC
DRC-Hubo humanoid robot egressing at the DRC
Team KAIST posing after winning the DRC