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The Darpa Robotics Challenge is all about building robots that can operate in a human environment robust enough to do useful work during emergencies, to aid and supplement first responders. Whether the emergency is man made or natural, the robots need to operate human devices, such as doors, stairs, tools and vehicles, as well as recognize and asses their environments for emergency context. If you have been waiting for your chance to shine as a robotics engineer, this might be your kind of challenge. Tracks A and B have already been selected, Track C for software control systems, and Track D for combined hardware and software, are both still open. The initial work should be developed and submitted with the GFE Simulator package, which is the robot simulation software from the Open Source Robotics Foundation. Even if you don’t think your skill set is quite up to entering a competition of this caliber, if you have any interest in developing your own robots you should download this free software suite and try out your hand at design and development. If you do enter, and you are selected to continue past the entry level, at the next stage you may be eligible for some funding to develop your design. Our next Evil Robot Overlord could be one you made yourself! Thanks to the folks at Popular Mechanics for the heads up on this one, and check out their article for lots more detail. And yes, I did just install Ubuntu 12.04 specifically so I could get the best build of GazeboSim installed and running.