CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform) took third place in the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. Carnegie Mellon University-NREC designed CHIMP to work in dangerous, degraded environments that were built for people, not robots. CHIMP’s near-human form factor, strength, precision, and dexterity give it the ability to perform complex, human-level tasks in these settings.
CHIMP uses a blend of high-level operator commands and low-level autonomy to perform tasks quickly and compensate for communications limitations. Operators give CHIMP general instructions; CHIMP then autonomously plans and carries them out. Input from CHIMP’s full, 360° sensor suite feeds into a 3D model of its surroundings. It uses this model to autonomously plan and execute joint and limb movements and grasps. The 3D model also gives CHIMP’s operators better situational awareness.
To avoid the tricky problem of balancing a walking robot as it moves over uneven terrain, CHIMP rolls on rubberized tracks like a tank. It drives on all fours over obstacles, then stands up on its hind legs to turn valves, use tools, and perform similar tasks. This provides a very stable platform for precise manipulation. CHIMP can also roll on its leg tracks while upright, enabling it to open doors and perform other tasks that involve both movement and manipulation.
CHIMP’s three-fingered grippers and custom-engineered drive joints give it the ability to grasp and manipulate objects with human-like adaptability and dexterity. Its full-body control supports high-strength maneuvers and manipulation tasks.
To position us to win the DARPA Robotic Challenge in 2015, we’re improving CHIMP’s mobility, on-board autonomy, speed, and ease of use.
Technologies developed for CHIMP have wide applications in disaster response and recovery, operations in hazardous environments, manufacturing, inspection and maintenance, and more.