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Hubo Professor Jun-Ho Oh Donates Startup Shares Worth 5 Billion KRW
Rainbow Robotics stock used to endow the development fund Emeritus Professor Jun-Ho Oh, who developed the 2015 DARPA Challenge winning humanoid robot DRC-Hubo, donated 5 billion KRW on October 25 during a ceremony held at the KAIST campus in Daejeon. Professor Oh donated his 20% share (400 shares) of his startup Rainbow Robotics, which was established in 2011. Rainbow Robotics was listed on the KOSDAQ this February. The 400 shares were converted to 200,000 shares with a value of approximately 5 billion KRW when listed this year. KAIST sold the stocks and endowed the Jun-Ho Oh Fund, which will be used for the development of the university. He was the 39th faculty member who launched a startup with technology from his lab and became the biggest faculty entrepreneur donor. “I have received huge support and funding for my research. Fortunately, the research had a good result and led to the startup. Now I am very delighted to pay back the university. I feel that I have played a part in building the school’s startup ecosystem and creating a virtuous circle,” said Professor Oh during the ceremony. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee declared, “Professor Oh has been a very impressive exemplary model for our aspiring faculty and student tech startups. We will spare no effort to support startups at KAIST.” Professor Oh, who retired from the Department of Mechanical Engineering last year, now serves as the CTO at Rainbow Robotics. The company is developing humanoid bipedal robots and collaborative robots, and advancing robot technology including parts for astronomical observations. Professor Hae-Won Park and Professor Je Min Hwangbo, who are now responsible for the Hubo Lab, also joined the ceremony along with employees of Rainbow Robotics.
Hubo Debuts as a News Anchor
HUBO, a humanoid robot developed by Professor Jun-Ho Oh’s team, made its debut as a co-anchor during the TJB prime time news 8 on May 14. “Un-contact" became the new normal after Covid-19 and many business solutions are being transformed using robotics. HUBO made two news reports on contactless services using robots in medical, manufacturing, and logistics industries. HUBO 2, the second generation of HUBO, appeared as a special anchor on the local broadcasting network’s special program in celebration of its 25th anniversary. HUBO is the champion of the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge held in the USA. Its FX-2 riding robot also participated in the Olympic torch relay during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Click here to watch a full video of HUBO anchoring the news. (END)
'Flying Drones for Rescue'
(Video Credit: ⓒNASA JPL) < Team USRG and Professor Shim (second from the right) > Having recently won the AI R&D Grand Challenge Competition in Korea, Team USRG (Unmanned System Research Group) led by Professor Hyunchul Shim from the School of Electrical Engineering is all geared up to take on their next challenges: the ‘Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Subterranean Challenge (DARPA SubT Challenge)’ and ‘Lockheed Martin’s AlphaPilot Challenge’ next month. Team USRG won the obstacle course race in the ‘2019 AI R&D Grand Challenge Competition’ on July 12. They managed to successfully dominate the challenging category of ‘control intelligence.’ Having to complete the obstacle course race solely using AI systems without any connection to the internet made it difficult for most of the eight participating teams to pass the third section of the race, and only Team USRG passed the long pipeline course during their attempt in the main event. They also demonstrated, after the main event, that their drone can navigate all of the checkpoints including landing on the “H” mark using deep learning. Their drone flew through polls and pipes, and escaped from windows and mazes against strong winds, amid cheers and groans from the crowd gathered at the Korea Exhibition Center (KINTEX) in Goyang, Korea. The team was awarded three million KRW in prize money, and received a research grant worth six hundred million KRW from the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). “Being ranked first in the race for which we were never given a chance for a test flight means a lot to our team. Considering that we had no information on the exact size of the course in advance, this is a startling result,” said Professor Shim. “We will carry out further research with this funding, and compete once again with the improved AI and drone technology in the 2020 competition,” he added. The AI R&D Grand Challenge Competition, which was first started in 2017, has been designed to promote AI research and development and expand its application to addressing high-risk technical challenges with significant socio-economic impact. This year’s competition presented participants with a task where they had to develop AI software technology for drones to navigate themselves autonomously during complex disaster relief operations such as aid delivery. Each team participated in one of the four tracks of the competition, and their drones were evaluated based on the criteria for each track. The divisions were broken up into intelligent context-awareness, intelligent character recognition, auditory intelligence, and control intelligence. Team USRG’s technological prowess has been already well acclaimed among international peer groups. Teamed up with NASA JPL, Caltech, and MIT, they will compete in the subterranean mission during the ‘DARPA SubT Challenge’. Team CoSTAR, as its name stands for, is working together to build ‘Collaborative SubTerranean Autonomous Resilient Robots.’ Professor Shim emphasized the role KAIST plays in Team CoSTAR as a leader in drone technology. “I think when our drone technology will be added to our peers’ AI and robotics, Team CoSTAR will bring out unsurpassable synergy in completing the subterrestrial and planetary applications. I would like to follow the footprint of Hubo, the winning champion of the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge and even extend it to subterranean exploration,” he said. These next generation autonomous subsurface explorers are now all optimizing the physical AI robot systems developed by Team CoSTAR. They will test their systems in more realistic field environments August 15 through 22 in Pittsburgh, USA. They have already received funding from DARPA for participating. Team CoSTAR will compete in three consecutive yearly events starting this year, and the last event, planned for 2021, will put the team to the final test with courses that incorporate diverse challenges from all three events. Two million USD will be awarded to the winner after the final event, with additional prizes of up to 200,000 USD for self-funded teams. Team USRG also ranked third in the recent Hyundai Motor Company’s ‘Autonomous Vehicle Competition’ and another challenge is on the horizon: Lockheed Martin’s ‘AlphaPilot Challenge’. In this event, the teams will be flying their drones through a series of racing gates, trying to beat the best human pilot. The challenge is hosted by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor and the maker of the famed F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, with the goal of stimulating the development of autonomous drones. Team USRG was selected from out of more than 400 teams from around the world and is preparing for a series of races this fall, beginning from the end of August. Professor Shim said, “It is not easy to perform in a series of competitions in just a few months, but my students are smart, hardworking, and highly motivated. These events indeed demand a lot, but they really challenge the researchers to come up with technologies that work in the real world. This is the way robotics really should be.” (END)
Soul-Searching & Odds-Defying Determination: A Commencement Story of Dr. Tae-Hyun Oh
(Dr. Tae-Hyun Oh, one of the 2736 graduates of the 2018) Each and every one of the 2,736 graduates has come a long way to the 2018 Commencement. Tae-Hyun Oh, who just started his new research career at MIT after completing his Ph.D. at KAIST, is no exception. Unlike the most KAIST freshmen straight out of the ingenious science academies of Korea, he is among the many who endured very challenging and turbulent adolescent years. Buffeted by family instability and struggling during his time at school, he saw himself trapped by seemingly impenetrable barriers. His mother, who hated to see his struggling, advised him to take a break to reflect on who he is and what he wanted to do. After dropping out of high school in his first year, ways to make money and support his family occupied his thoughts. He took on odd jobs from a car body shop to a gas station, but the real world was very tough and sometimes even cruel to the high school dropout. Bias and prejudice stigmatizing dropouts hurt him so much. He often overheard a parent who dropped by the body shop that he worked in saying, “If you do not study hard, you will end up like this guy.” Hearing such things terrified him and awoke his sense of purpose. So he decided to do something meaningful and be a better man than he was. “I didn’t like the person I was growing up to become. I needed to find myself and get away from the place I was growing up. It was my adventure and it was the best decision I ever made,” says Oh. After completing his high school diploma national certificate, he planned to apply to an engineering college. On his second try, he gained admission into the Department of Electrical Engineering at Kwang Woon University with a full scholarship. He was so thrilled for this opportunity and hoped he could do well at college. Signal processing and image processing became the interest of his research and he finished his undergraduate degree summa cum laude. Gaining confidence in his studies, he searched around graduate school department websites in Korea to select the path he was interested in. Among others, the Robotics and Computer Vision Lab of Professor In-So Kweon at the Department of Electrical Engineering at KAIST was attractive to him. Professor Kweon’s lab is globally renowned for robot vision technology. Their technologies were applied into HUBO, the KAIST-developed bimodal humanoid robot that won the 2015 DARPA Challenges. “I am so appreciate of Professor Kweon, who accepted and guided me,” he said. Under Professor Kweon’s advising, he could finish his Master’s and Ph.D. courses in seven years. The mathematical modeling on fundamental computer algorithms became his main research topic. While at KAIST, his academic research has blossomed. He won a total of 13 research prizes sponsored by corporations at home and abroad such as Kolon, Samsung, Hyundai Motors, and Qualcomm. In 2015, he won the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship as the sole Korean among 13 Ph.D. candidates in the Asian region. With the MSRA fellowship, he could intern at the MS Research Beijing Office for half a year and then in Redmond, Washington in the US. “Professor Kweon’s lab filled me up with knowledge. Whenever I presented our team’s paper at an international conference, I was amazed by the strong interest shown by foreign experts, researchers, and professors. Their strong support and interest encouraged me a lot. I was fully charged with the belief that I could go abroad and explore more opportunities,” he said. Dr. Oh, who completed his dissertation last fall, now works at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT under Professor Wojciech Matusik. “I think the research environment at KAIST is on par with MIT. I have very rich resources for my studies and research at both schools, but at MIT the working culture is a little different and it remains a big challenge for me. I am still not familiar with collaborative work with colleagues from very diverse backgrounds and countries, and to persuade them and communicate with them is very tough. But I think I am getting better and better,” he said. Oh, who is an avid computer game player as well, said life seems to be a game. The level of the game will be upgraded to the next level after something is accomplished. He feels great joy when he is moving up and he believes such diverse experiences have helped him become a better person day by day. Once he identified what gave him a strong sense of purpose, he wasn’t stressed out by his studies any more. He was so excited to be able to follow his passion and is ready for the next challenge.
HUBO to Present at the 2016 World Economic Forum
KAIST researchers will lead an IdeasLab on biotechnology for an aging society while HUBO, the winner of the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge, will interact with the forum participants, offering an experience of state-of-the-art robotics technology. Representatives from KAIST will attend the 2016 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum to run an IdeasLab and showcase its humanoid robot. With over 2,500 leaders from business, government, international organizations, civil society, academia, media, and the arts expected to participate, the 2016 Annual Meeting will take place on January 20-23, 2016 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Under the theme of “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” global leaders will discuss the period of digital transformation that will have profound effects on economies, societies, and human behavior. President Sung-Mo Kang will join the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), a high-level academic meeting to foster collaboration among experts on issues of global concern for the future of higher education and the role of science in society. He will discuss how the emerging revolution in technology will affect the way universities operate and serve society. KAIST is the only Korean university participating in GULF, which is composed of prestigious universities invited from around the world. Four KAIST professors, including Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, will lead an IdeasLab on “Biotechnology for an Aging Society.” Professor Lee said, “In recent decades, much attention has been paid to the potential effect of the growth of an aging population and problems posed by it. At our IdeasLab, we will introduce some of our research breakthroughs in biotechnology to address the challenges of an aging society.” In particular, he will present his latest research in systems biotechnology and metabolic engineering. His research has explained the mechanisms of how traditional Oriental medicine works in our bodies by identifying structural similarities between effective compounds in traditional medicine and human metabolites, and has proposed more effective treatments by employing such compounds. KAIST will also display its networked mobile medical service system, “Dr. M.” Built upon a ubiquitous and mobile Internet, such as the Internet of Things, wearable electronics, and smart homes and vehicles, Dr. M will provide patients with a more affordable and accessible healthcare service. In addition, Professor Jun-Ho Oh of the Mechanical Engineering Department will showcase his humanoid robot, “HUBO,” during the Annual Meeting. His research team won the International Humanoid Robotics Challenge hosted by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was held in Pomona, California, on June 5-6, 2015. With 24 international teams participating in the finals, HUBO completed all eight tasks in 44 minutes and 28 seconds, 6 minutes earlier than the runner-up, and almost 11 minutes earlier than the third-place team. Team KAIST walked away with the grand prize of USD 2 million. Professor Oh said, “Robotics technology will grow exponentially in this century, becoming a real driving force to expedite the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I hope HUBO will offer an opportunity to learn about the current advances in robotics technology.” President Kang pointed out, “KAIST has participated in the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum since 2011 and has engaged with a broad spectrum of global leaders through numerous presentations and demonstrations of our excellence in education and research. Next year, we will choreograph our first robotics exhibition on HUBO and present high-tech research results in biotechnology, which, I believe, epitomizes how science and technology breakthroughs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will shape our future in an unprecedented way.”
KAIST's DRC-HUBO Wins the DARPA Robotics Challenge 2015
DRC-HUBO finished all eight assignments in less than 45 minutes, taking first place among 24 international teams and claiming the USD 2 million prize offered by a US defense research agency. The Robotics Challenge Finals 2015 hosted by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) took place on June 5-6, 2015 at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. Team KAIST of the Republic of Korea led by Professor Jun-Ho Oh of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Professor In-So Kweon of the Electrical Engineering Department, and researchers from Rainbow Co., the university’s spin-off company that builds the robots, won the DARPA Finals. The team received USD 2 million as a prize. The DARPA’s Robotics Challenge (DRC) promotes a competition of robot systems and software teams which seek to develop robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident in 2011. The DRC consists of three competitions: a software-based Virtual Robotics Challenge which took place in June 2013; the Robotics Challenge Trials in Homestead, Florida, in December 2013; and the Finals in June 2015. A total of 24 teams from universities and private and public research institutes from Korea, the US, Hong Kong, Germany, Japan, and Italy participated in the Finals. The participating teams had to finish eight assignments in 60 minutes, during which their robots were untethered and operated wirelessly without communication from their engineers. Each team was assigned a series of tasks: they included driving a vehicle, getting out of a vehicle, opening a door, turning a valve, drilling a hole in a wall, a surprise task such as pushing a button or turning on a switch, walking over rubble or debris, and climbing stairs. Robots scored a point each time they completed their missions. To win, a team had to complete all the tasks successfully in the shortest amount of time possible. Team KAIST completed the entire course in 44 minutes and 28 seconds, followed by the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) Robotics in Pensacola, Florida in 50:26, and Team TARTAN Rescue of the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University in 55:15. For details, see an article below from the New York Times: New York Times, June 6, 2015 “Korean Robot Makers Walk Off With $2 Million Prize” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/science/korean-robot-makers-walk-off-with-2-million-prize.html?_r=1 DRC-HUBO sticks a plug into an outlet for the surprise task at the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge on June 5-6, 2015, in Pomona, California. DRC-HUBO turns a valve in a clockwise direction. DRC-HUBO drills to cut a circle into the wall. Members of Team KAIST pose together after the award ceremony on June 6, 2015.
KAIST's HUBO Ready for DARPA's Robotics Challenge Trials
When walking on muddy or bumpy roads, the two arms of DRC-HUBO become extra legs, enabling stable and agile movements. The Humanoid Robot Research Center (HUBO Lab, http://hubolab.kaist.ac.kr) at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Rainbow Co., a spin-off venture company of the university, unveiled a new model of HUBO that will be entered in an international robotics competition scheduled later this year. The competition is hosted and sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is called the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). Kicked off in October 2012, the DRC’s goal is to spur the development of advanced robots that can assist humans in mitigating and recovering from future natural and man-made disasters. KAIST’s humanoid robot, HUBO, was originally created by Jun-Ho Oh, a distinguished professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, in 2004. Since then, the robot has gone through technological advancements, with the latest version of HUBO II released in 2012. So far, 12 HUBOs have been exported for further studies in robotics to universities, research institutes, and private companies in the US, China, and Singapore. In tandem with Rainbow Co. (www.rainbow-robot.com), Professor Oh and his research team recently developed DRC-HUBO, which will compete as Team DRC-HUBO led by Drexel University at the DRC trials to be held in December 2013. Team DRC-HUBO is consisted of KAIST and nine US institutions. DRC-HUBO is designed to perform difficult but essential activities required when responding to disaster scenes. The robot will have to fulfill eight tasks assigned by the DRC at the upcoming event such as driving a utility vehicle, walking across rough terrain, climbing a ladder, and using hand tools. Unlike the previous models of HUBO, DRC-HUBO boasts several distinctive, enhanced features. Chief among them is the way the robot interacts with the external environment. Without complex sensors installed throughout the body, DRC-HUBO can control each joint of the arms and legs in compliance with the dynamics dictated by the external environment. For example, when DRC-HUBO is faced with a rock falling from above while climbing up a ladder, the robot’s arms and legs naturally give in to the force of external changes. Accordingly, as the robot dodges the rock, its body and joints smoothly sway to absorb shock so that the fingers can keep a tight grip on the ladder, and the feet are planted firmly on the rail of the ladder, not losing balance. In addition, DRC-HUBO can switch from bipedal to quadrupedal walking and vice versa. This provides the robot with greater stability to walk on uneven terrain or to climb up a hill. The robot’s arms and legs are elongated to better meet the challenges demanded by the DRC competition. DRC-HUBO’s two arms swing back and forth to form legs when necessary, thereby walking freely backwards and forwards. The robot has gotten stronger grip as well. The right hand has four fingers (with one triggering finger that operates independently from the other three fingers), and the left hand has three fingers. All three fingers on both hands are actuated synchronously for gripping. The fingers are sophisticated enough to steer the wheel of a vehicle or grab a ladder to climb up, and strong enough to hold 15 lbs in one hand. “With a full 34 degrees of freedom (DOF), DRC-HUBO stands 4.7 ft tall and weighs 120 lbs. All in all, the robot has been improved and extensively refurbished from the past models of HUBOs to compete at the DRC Trials. It has better vision and coordination. The legs and arms have become stronger,” said Professor Oh. “Although the robot is still a prototype, it has important capabilities that can be utilized in advancing humanoid robots in general. One example is the way its arms can be used as extra legs to support the robot’s body, offering more flexibility in providing aid to humans.”
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