Developing a Robust Disaster Response Robot: CHIMP and the Robotics Challenge
CHIMP, the CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform, is a humanoid robot capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments, such as those found in disaster response scenarios. CHIMP is uniquely designed for mobile manipulation in challenging environments, as the robot performs manipulation tasks using an upright posture, yet uses more stable prostrate postures for mobility through difficult terrain. In this paper, we report on the improvements made to CHIMP—both in its mechanical design and its software systems—in preparation for the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June 2015. These include details on CHIMP’s novel mechanical design, actuation systems, robust construction, all terrain mobility, supervised autonomy approach, and unique user interfaces utilized for the challenge. Additionally, we provide an overview of CHIMP’s performance and detail the various lessons learned over the course of the challenge. CHIMP was one of the winners of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, completing all tasks and finishing 3rd place of 23 teams. Notably, CHIMP was the only robot to stand back up after accidentally falling over, a testament to the robustness engineered into the robot and a remote operator’s ability to execute complex tasks using a highly capable robot. We present CHIMP as a concrete engineering example of a successful disaster response robot.
Development of the CHIMP robot has been supported by DARPA/SPAWAR under contract number N65236-12-C-3886. This work would not have been possible without the dedication of the entire Team Tartan Rescue and the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Additional team sponsors have provided generous support, notably from Foxconn, Amazon, and Carnegie Robotics, with additional support by Accurate Gear and Machine, Brentronics, Eclipse Metal Fabrication, Elmo Motion Control, Faulhaber, Glenair, Google, Harmonic Drive, Honeywell, Kollmorgen, Micromo, Oshkosh/JLG, Pratt & Miller, Robotiq, Sepac, Shell, and THK.
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