December 19, Vol. 24, No. 23              

CHIMP To Compete in DARPA Trials, Dec. 20-21  

The Tartan Rescue Team's four-limbed CHIMP robot is one of 17 entries in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials this Friday and Saturday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. The DRC aims to spur development of advanced robots that can help during disasters.

CHIMP - the CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform - is 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 400 pounds and moves on tank-like treads on each of its four limbs. It has 39 motors, including the ones that turn a pair of laser radars on its head, which gives its operators a global view of where CHIMP is located within the environment.

During the trials, each robot will be given 30 minutes to attempt eight different challenges, such as clearing debris, closing valves, handling a fire hose, climbing stairs and crossing uneven terrain.

"We've been on a fast track for the past year, doing detailed design and development of CHIMP at the same time as we were writing and testing its software on surrogate hardware," said Tony Stentz, NREC director and leader of the Tartan Rescue Team. "That's an aggressive approach to producing a robot unlike any we have built and not without risk, but it appears to be paying off."

CMU Part of WPI Team, Too
Robotics Professor Chris Atkeson and 10 current or recent CMU grad students and postdocs are part of Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Robotics Engineering C Squad, which also will be competing in the trials.

The team was one of the top finishers in the DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge this summer and qualifed to
receive a 6 feet 2 inches tall, 330-pound Atlas humanoid, designed and built for the DRC by Boston Dynamics, a company recently acquired by Google. The team dubbed the robot WPI's Atlas Robot for Nonconventional Emergency Response, or WARNER.
Read more about CHIMP.

Major Power Shutdown Scheduled for Jan. 5  
Facilities Management Services and Campus Design and Facilities Development have planned a second major power shutdown and transfer on Sunday, Jan. 5 to repair the damage done earlier this year to the 4160V power distribution at the Scott Hall construction site.  

A five-hour power shutdown is needed for Hamerschlag Hall, Roberts Hall and Scaife Hall from 6 - 11 a.m. 
Hamburg Hall, Smith Hall, Newell-Simon Hall and the Facilities Management Services Building will each have an interruption of power for approximately 15 minutes from 6 - 7 a.m.
Doherty Hall, Purnell Center and Gates Hillman Center will each have an interruption of power for approximately 15 minutes from 11 a.m. - noon.
Heating and chilled water systems will start shutting down at 5 a.m. The remaining campus buildings' chilled water will operate as normal.

Building occupants should shut off all non-essential equipment, make sure all windows are closed and fume hoods are safe before leaving campus for the weekend (Jan. 4-5). 

Questions should be directed to Kyle Tomer at

Duolingo Named Apple's App of the Year   
Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Luis von Ahn (CS'03, '05) and his Ph.D. student Severin Hacker launched Duolingo to help people learn foreign languages. And it's worked. The website's iPhone version was recently named Apple's App of the Year.

The app has been downloaded 10 million times from Apple and nearly 8 million times from Android. More than 5 million people are monthly active users.

Users of the website have access to computer tools that enable novices to translate text as well as a professional. The site offers free language lessons and computer-generated exercises in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.

Happy Holidays!  

The Internal Communications Team wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year! Look for the next 8.5 x 11 News on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Help ensure the safety and well-being of the CMU community:
University Police: 412-268-2323
Ethics Hotline: 1-877-700-7050

Calendar Highlights 

International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration

Dec. 24-25
University Offices Closed

Dec. 30
Women's Basketball at Chatham University

Dec. 31 - Jan. 1
University Offices Closed

Jan. 9
Fundamentals of Research Administration

Jan. 13
Classes Resume

Jan. 14
Fundamentals of Research Administration

Jan. 20
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration (Details to come)

 Personal Mention

Jared L. Cohon
Eswaran Subrahmanian
Ed Rubin
Jim Daniels
Matt Loebbaka

Donna Beck and Lynn Berard
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