Growing up, Youngbum Jun never thought about becoming an engineer, instead, he wanted to be an actor. But after completing his undergraduate program, he developed an interest in robotics.
That passion soon turned into a Ph.D. in technical engineering and a chance to work on robotics on an international scale.
“I am really eager to participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, even if we don’t win, this will be a great experience.” said Youngbum Jun, a UNLV research scientist who is the team lead on planning and control systems for the robot.
This isn’t Jun’s first time competing with the robot, however. He was part of Paul Oh’s team at Drexel University. This original DRC-Hubo team competed at trials in Miami in December 2013. The team did not earn enough points to qualify to the next round, but DARPA decided to give the team a chance to participate in the robotics finals this June.
“We implemented our research concept, applying practical applications and that’s what impressed them; we focused on implementing our research rather than completing tasks to gather points only,” Jun said.
After the Miami competition, Oh was hired at UNLV as Lincy Professor for Unmanned Aerial Systems and asked Jun and two others if they’d go with him to UNLV and work on the Hubo robot and continue the journey to the finals.
Now, Jun is working on different applications, with the goal of having a fully autonomous robot to reach full autonomous system, however, the technology available is limited to only half autonomous system. He believes that very soon robots will work in areas where humans aren’t needed.
He also believes that robots should be stronger than humans to achieve difficult tasks which humans aren’t capable of, however, power adds more rigidness to the body of the robot. He believes that the robot would preform better with skin on its rigid body, to absorb force and act accordingly.
The team consists of researchers from different backgrounds and areas of studies, which gives him confidence that they are experts in this field, “We are ready for the challenge and we will do our best,” Jun said.” We had limited time and resources, but because we are experts in what we do, we are confident to compete.”