(VELINO) Roma, 8 Jun - Italy played a prominent role at theDARPA Robotics Challenge in Pomona, California, where thestrongest robotics teams in the world battled it out. Atstake, a prize of two million dollars, assigned to the mostuseful robot to assist humans dealing with natural disasters.To win the competition your robot had to negotiate an obstaclecourse within a maximum of one hour while performing eightspecific tasks: to drive a vehicle, open a door, close a valve,use a tool to cut a hole in a wall, remove obstacles, walk onuneven ground, climb one or more steps and clamber over rubble.Victory went to a South Korean team, KAIST, while two U.S.ones, and IHMC and Tartan Rescue, finished second and third.Italy participated with "Walkman", built by the ItalianInstitute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa in partnership with the"E. Piaggio" research centre in Pisa. The robot is 1.85 metrestall and weighs 120 kilos. It is an android capable ofintervening in emergency situations in degraded and dangerousareas. The team, which was visited by - among others - theItalian consul general in Los Angeles Antonio Verde, came 17thafter a battery problem. However, it showed off some excellentskills, including the strength to lift boulders. It could alsodrive and move and do things on difficult ground, and interactwith objects, for example using pneumatic hammers and drills.Moreover, it demonstrated excellent cognitive and perceptiveskills that would allow it to operate independently in theevent of a blackout or severe communications problems. TheDARPA Robotics Challenge began in 2012 after the Fukushimanuclear disaster the year before. In that case if the rescuershad had robots, they could have limited the scale of thedisaster. vel.