Minds behind the Intelligence

Minds behind the Intelligence

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), USA successfully conducted the mega event of Robotics Challenge. Lots of team around the globe participated in DRC trails and 25 team selected for final. After years of research and development, a day of rehearsal and two full days of head-to-head competition in front of thousands of spectators the best team won the DRC Grand finale. In last couple of days, we have seen the intelligent humanoid robots solving the problems in disaster environment using their own intelligence. So Let’s meet the minds behind this intelligence!

Definitely lots of researchers, designers, developers and engineers are behind these intelligent robots. But here we are covering the team leaders of the top three teams, those who led their team professionally very well towards this grand success.

The first place and the $2 million in prize money are secured by Team KAIST, South Korea with robot DRC- HUBO. Rainbow Co. and KAIST worked together to develop both the hardware and software. 4 masters, 10 Ph. D students in KAIST, 4 doctors in Rainbow Co. all have been working on DRC from the start. And 10 staffs in Rainbow Co. assists specially robot’s hardware part. The KAIST students mainly consist of 2 laboratories of KAIST, 13 students of Hubo Lab and 5 students of RCV Lab. Around 45% task is completed by HUBO lab, 40% by Rainbow and 15% by Computer Vision Lab.

Prof. JunHo Oh, Director of Humanoid Robot Research Center led the KAIST team. Prof. JunHo Oh has played leading role in development of HUBO’s all performance such as bipedal walking, manipulation, control algorithm and etc. Prof. JunHo Oh shared their idea about how did they completed HuBo and given DRC tasks.  On the development of HUBO prof said “For us Hardware first, Simulation last, We have our own manufacturing facility so we made four identical HUBO to work on real robot. There are both pros and cons using real system. The pro is that we are dealing with real one that is our final result and con is that when you deal with hardware 80% of time is maintenance of hardware and only 20% is experiment.”

Jun ho Oh

Prof. JunHo Oh

  • Education

    • 1977 B.S. Yonsei University
    • 1979 M.S. Yonsei University
    • 1985 Ph.D. Univ. of California, Berkeley
  • Career

    • Vice President for Budget and Planning, KAIST
    • Director of Humanoid Robot Research Center
  • Research interest

    • Automatic control
    • Mechatronics
    • Robotics

Coming in second and taking home $1 million is Team IHMC Robotics of Pensacola, Fla., and its robot Running Man.

This team is led by two research scientists – Jerry Pratt and Matt Johnson

Jerry pratt

Jerry Pratt:

Senior Research Scientist

Jerry Pratt (Ph.D., M.Eng., and B.S. degrees from M.I.T. in Computer Science and B.S. degree from M.I.T. in Mechanical Engineering) leads a research group at IHMC that concentrates around the understanding and modeling of human gait and the applications of that understanding in the fields of robotics, human assistive devices, and man-machine interfaces. Current projects include Humanoid Avatar Robots for Co-Exploration of Hazardous Environments, FastRunner Robot, and Exoskeletons for Restoration of Gait in Paralyzed Individuals. Jerry currently leads Team IHMC in the DARPA Robotics Challenge project. In 2013 Team IHMC achieved first place in the Virtual Robotics Challenge and second place in DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. Before coming to IHMC, Jerry was the President of Yobotics, Inc., a small company that he cofounded in 2000. At Yobotics, Jerry helped develop the RoboKnee, a powered exoskeleton that allowed one to carry large loads while hiking over rough terrain with little effort. Prior to founding Yobotics, Jerry worked at the M.I.T. Leg Laboratory, where he designed, built, and controlled several bipedal robots. His approach of maximizing speed, agility, and biological similarity through the understanding of biological counterparts, is helping to remove the stereotype of robots as being clunky, jerky-moving machines. Jerry’s hobbies include sailing, playing board games, football, basketball, and paintball.

Explore further: Jerry Pratt’s site


Matt Johnson

Research Scientist

Matt Johnson has been a researcher with IHMC since 2002. Matt is passionate about making robotic systems more flexible, resilient and effective through human-machine teamwork. In support of this, he is interested in robot control theory, human-centered computing, human factors, and interface design. Currently Matt is involved in several projects:

  • National Robotics Initiative: Toward Humanoid Avatar for Co-exploration of Hazardous Environments
    • As cool as it sounds…getting humanoid robots to do cool stuff.
    • We are looking forward to partnering with NASA’s humanoid robot based on Robonaut in the next phase.
  • The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC)
    • The DRC is an international humanoid robotics competition. IHMC did very well in the first phase. IHMC will be using an Atlas robot for Phase 2 and 3.
  • AFRL Micro-Air Vehicles
    • Matt is the PI on this project which is focused on enabling UAVs to operate in complex environments via human-machine teamwork.
  • NASA rotorcraft noise minimization
    • Matt is the PI on this project which is focused on using planning techniques to find reduced noise trajectories for rotorcraft.

Previous projects include:

  • OZ flight display
  • DARPA Augmented Cognition project
  • NASA Human-Robot Teamwork
  • DARPA Learning Locomotion.
  • Applying semantic technologies to support information gathering and sharing

Matt has a PhD in Computer Science, a M.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. Matt retired from the Navy after 20 years of service as a Naval Aviator flying both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. When not working on robots for IHMC he enjoys playing soccer.

For more details: Matt’s site.

Team IHMC Robotics
Team IHMC Robotics

The third place finisher, earning the $500,000 prize, is Tartan Rescue of Pittsburgh, and its robot CHIMP.

This team is led by Dr. Anthony (Tony) Stentz is a Research Professor at CMU.


Dr. Anthony (Tony) Stentz :

Dr. Anthony (Tony) Stentz is a Research Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. His 30 years of research experience and expertise encompasses unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), multi-vehicle planning and coordination, dynamic planning, perception for mobile robots, robot architecture, and artificial intelligence.

Dr. Stentz has executed research projects for numerous government and commercial sponsors. Currently, he is Principal Investigator and Autonomy Lead for the Tartan Rescue Team’s CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform), a human-like robot which took third place in the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials and is competing in the DRC Finals in 2015.

Key accomplishments include inventing the D* algorithm for route re-planning, inventing market-based algorithms for multi-robot planning and coordination, developing ladar-based cross country navigation systems for unmanned vehicles, and automating excavators, windrowers, tractors, and mining machines used in industry.

Dr. Stentz received the Alan Newell Award for Research Excellence and a NASA Board Award for developing software used on the Mars Rovers. His leadership of NREC has resulted in DARPA’s Sustained Excellence Award for its unmanned ground vehicle work.  Dr. Stentz holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon.


Tartan Rescue (DARPA Robotics Challenge); Autonomous Haulage SystemAutonomous Loading; Autonomous Navigation System; Row Crop HarvestingVehicle SafeguardingAssisted MiningPerceptOROff-Road Autonomy (UPI)


3D Range Sensing; Image ProcessingMotion Planning & ExecutionMulti-Vehicle Coordination

Explore Further about Dr. Tony: Research interests and Papers

Google Scholar


Watch How they did it?


“These robots are big and made of lots of metal and you might assume people seeing them would be filled with fear and anxiety,” Pratt said. “But we heard groans of sympathy when those robots fell. And what did people do every time a robot scored a point? They cheered! It’s an extraordinary thing, and I think this is one of the biggest lessons from DRC—the potential for robots not only to perform technical tasks for us, but to help connect people to one another.”

Image: DARPA