With $2M at stake, robots compete, slowly, in response to disaster simulation in California

POMONA, Calif. – It’s shaping up to be a snail’s pace race featuring cutting-edge robots doing simple but critical tasks.

Robots in the disaster response competition must push buttons, turn valves, cut through a wall and drive a light utility vehicle.

The U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency is offering a $2 million research award to the winning design team in the contest that runs Friday and Saturday at a Pomona racetrack designed to look like a disaster zone.

The robots may be slow, clumsy and delicate but they might just save lives someday.

Competition organizer Gill Pratt says such robots can go into disaster zones that are too dangerous for humans.

The defence agency focuses on futuristic technologies for national security.