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DARPA Arm Robot Controlled via LabVIEW January 25, 2011

Posted by emiliekopp in code, labview robot projects.
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By now, you’ve all heard of one of DARPA’s latest robotics projects, but just in case:


DARPA is introducing its Autonomous Robotic Manipulation  (ARM) program. The goal of this 4 year, multi-track program is to  develop software and hardware that allows an operator to control a robot  which is able to autonomously manipulate, grasp and perform complicated tasks,  given only high-level direction. Over the course of the program in the  Software Track, funded performers will be developing algorithms that  enables the DARPA robot to execute these numerous tasks. DARPA is also  making an identical robot available for public use, allowing anyone the  opportunity to write software, test it in simulation, upload it to the  actual system, and then watch, in real-time via the internet, as the  DARPA robot executes the user’s software. Teams involved in this  Outreach Track will be able to compete and collaborate with other teams  from around the country.

One of NI’s R&D engineers, Karl, has developed a LabVIEW wrapper for the DARPA arm simulator in his spare time and has graciously shared it on the NI Robotics Code Exchange (ni.com/code/robotics).

Using Karl’s code, you can directly control the arm simulator using LabVIEW. This means you develop your own control code and easily create UIs using LabVIEW’s graphical programming environment (two of the things LabVIEW is best for).

Check out Karl’s blog to request the code:

DARPA Arm Robot Controlled via LabVIEW


Robot VIPs: Roboticists you should know about (part 1) March 8, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in Robot VIPs.
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In the years that I’ve worked at National Instruments, I’ve come across several engineers and scientists that are doing incredibly cool things in the robotics industry, using NI technologies. I’ve been lucky to meet some famous, some accomplished, or some just down right geeky people that are definitely worth knowing . I’d like to share my list of Roboticists You Should Know About, starting with one of my favorite VIPs:

Name: Dr. Dennis Hong

Title: Associate Professor and the Director of RoMeLa (Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory) of the Mechanical Engineering Department, Virginia Tech


  • Novel robot locomotion mechanisms
  • Design and analysis of mechanical systems
  • Kinematics and robot mechanism design
  • Humanoid robots
  • Autonomous systems

Geek cred:

Cool projects:

How to Join:

ARCH: A humvee that drives itself September 4, 2009

Posted by emiliekopp in industry robot spotlight.
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Speaking of autonomous vehicles, here’s an autonomous humvee from TORC Technologies, a company founded by a couple of Virginia Tech graduates several years ago. Needless to say, VT is a hot bed of UGV experts.

The idea is that you have a an unmanned humvee at the lead of a convoy. That way, if any IEDs and/or land mines are encountered on the convoy’s path, the unmanned vehicle is targeted first. The leading humvee can be teleoperated (remotely controlled) by an operator in the chase vehicle, or it can operate semi-autonmously or autonomously on its own.

TORC has become an industry expert in unmanned and autonomous vehicle systems. They helped create VictorTango, the vehicle that won 3rd prize in the DARPA Urban Challenge. NI has had the pleasure of working with them quite a bit. They’ve done a lot of their development using LabVIEW and CompactRIO.

Something I thought was cool is that TORC can turn any commericial automobile into an autonomous/teleoperated vehicle in a matter of hours. They do this by interfacing to the vehicle control unit through Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, and then communicate to it using JAUS commands. JAUS is like a universal language in military robotics. You can control one robot with specific JAUS commands and then control a different robot with the same commands, assuming they have the same computing nodes.

As if this blog post doesn’t already have enough acronyms, here’s the name of the autonomous humvee that TORC delivered to the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC):

ARCH: Autonomous Remote Control HMMWVs or Autonomous Remote Control for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (an acronym that contains yet another long acronym; engineers love this stuff)