Korean Robot Makers Walk Off With $2 Million Prize

POMONA, Calif. — A team of roboticists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology claimed a $2 million prize on Saturday that was offered by a Pentagon research agency for developing a mobile robot capable of operating in hazardous environments.

Twenty-five teams of university and corporate roboticists competed for the prize, which was first proposed in 2012 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The robots were graded on their ability to complete eight tasks, including driving a vehicle, opening a door, operating a portable drill, turning a valve and climbing stairs, all in the space of an hour.

The Korean victory is a validation of the work of JunHo Oh, the designer of the Hubo family of humanoid robots that he has developed since 2002. The winning Hubo is a clever machine that can kneel and drive on wheels in addition to walking.

The second-place winner, the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Fla., received $1 million, and the third-place winner, Tartan Rescue, from the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, received $500,000.

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