Everyone loves a good “Battle of the ‘Bots” throw down, even if the competitors are programmed for preserving lives, rather than destroying them.

PHOTOS: 8 Strange Textiles For Tomorrow

Last week, Berchtesgaden, Germany played host to the euRathlon, an outdoor robotics competition where 14 teams tested the intelligence, autonomy and grit of their robots that competed in mock emergency-response scenarios.

Three disaster scenarios tested the robots’ mettle: Mobile handling of hazardous materials, underground rescue from a smoke-filled environment and urban reconnaissance and surveillance. Robots also competed in a fourth category: Autonomous navigation using GPS.

The “reconnaissance and disposal of explosive devices” competition was open to the public and held at the Berchtesgaden train station. Visitors got to watch robots find and pick up duffel bags or suitcases from lockers and deactivate a mock explosive device.

Two teams came away with top honors. Telerob, a one-armed tank-like robot from aerospace company Cobham nabbed two gold medals in the hazardous materials handling and searcher and rescue categories, as well as a silver for surveillance. European Logistic Partners’ (ELP) entry, another one-armed tank-like robot, took silver for hazardous materials handling and search and rescue.

NEWS: Empathy Toward Robots Could Impact Battlezones

Although Cobham and ELP swept the awards, both companies displayed generous sportsmenship and donated their prize money to the top-ranked university teams in the competition. All 14 teams were invited back for next year’s competition, which will focus on underwater emergency response. You can check out the final day of the euRathlon in this video.


Credit: Fraunhofer