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NASA + Topcoder Team-Up on an Advanced Robotics Algorithm Challenge

By cloudspokes In Community Stories, Crowdsourcing Success

Posted February 6th, 2016

NASA Robonaut Challenge

In 2013 Topcoder had the privilege of working on the 1st Robonaut Challenge where we tasked the community with teaching Robonaut how to recognize several buttons and switches state and location on the taskboard by using real and simulated imagery.

The New NASA Algorithm Challenge for Topcoder

In this exciting follow on data science match, Robonaut 2 (“R2”), a humanoid robot that operates both on Earth and on the International Space Station, commonly uses tools. For example, it manages inventory using an RFID reader and fastens bolts with a drill. In order to use a tool, R2 relies on an algorithm to determine a 3D representation of the tool. The algorithm works with the robot’s control system and allows R2 to create a plan for grasping objects and completing its tasks.

There exist several algorithms that could be used to determine the 3D representation of the tool. However, the robot employs an older, less capable set of vision sensors, due to its space heritage and having been exposed to high levels of environmental radiation over time. Many existing algorithms assume that the vision data being used is of relatively high resolution, detail, and quality, and such algorithms are not effective when used with the grade of vision data available to R2.

The Objective of NASA’s Algorithm Challenge

This is where you come in! The R2 team needs you to create vision algorithms for determining the 3D representations of 6 different tools that will be effective with noisy, stereo vision data.

The objective for the Robonaut Vision Tool Manipulation match is to create algorithms that will receive a pair of noisy stereo images of common space tools such as an RFID reader, an EVA handrail, or a softbox, among others, and determine the 3D representation of the object in the image pair.

The Details You Need to Participate in NASA’s Robonaut Algorithm Challenge

  • This match kicks off on Tuesday February 23rd at 1PM EST and will run until March 8th at 1PM EST
  • There is $10,000 in total prizes available for the Topcoder community to win
  • You can pre-register for the match right here which will provide you key updates and reminders

We’d like to thank our partners at NASA and the Crowd Innovation Lab at Harvard University for helping us bring this amazing challenge to our dedicated and growing Topcoder community!

To all Topcoders who will compete, best of luck, we can’t wait to see your innovative algorithmic solutions!