Team MIT’s robot lost the DARPA challenge but won over the crowd

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At the DARPA Robotics Challenge last week, a robot drove in on a red UTV. The vehicle slowly came to a halt on the obstacle course as it reached the door of a simulated disaster building. The driver, a six-foot-two Atlas humanoid, sat motionless for many minutes. About half a dozen researchers wearing blue “TEAM MIT” vests looked on, like anxious parents waiting for their child to pick up the pace in a crucial race. When their robot eventually turned its body to get out of the vehicle, it shook uncontrollably for seconds before it leaped out of the car and fell flat on its face. The crowd collectively gasped and a loud aww rippled through the stands at Fairplex in Pomona, California. In that moment, one of the front-runners in the race became the underdog.

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