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Move over ASIMO: Meet CHARLI, the first U.S. full-sized humanoid April 29, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in Uncategorized.
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Our friends at RoMeLa just unveiled their latest major project to Popular Science magazine: CHARLI or Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence.

A few months ago, I had heard quite a bit about this project from Dr. Hong himself. It’s no longer a secret that he and his students have created the nation’s first full-sized humanoid robot, a feat that countries like Japan (ASIMO) and Korea (HUBO) had once kept to themselves.

It all started back in 1997, when RoboCup announced the charter to create a fully-autonomous soccer team of robots that would beat the World Cup champions by 2050. Since then, teams of researchers and students from all over the world have competed in RoboCup, with variations of robotic soccer players, from fully-simulated robots in software, to four-legged Sony Aibos, and more recently, bi-pedal humanoid robots in small and medium sizes.

RoMeLa is no stranger to RoboCup, competing in the “kid-size” humanoid league with DARwIn. Now they’re scaling up and planning to compete in the “teen-size” league with CHARLI-L (CHARLI-Lightweight). RoMeLa will use their extensive experience in humanoid locomotion, kinematics and control to help CHARLI-L beat his opponents on the field.

But beyond competing for the coveted trophy at RoboCup, CHARLI is already turning heads in the robotics industry. CHARLI-H, the next-gen version of CHARLI-L, has a unique mechanical design, inspired from the anatomy of humans. Instead of being actuated by rotational motors in his joints, like most robots of his kind, CHARLI has linear actuators along his limbs that mimic the way our muscles stretch and contract to control movement. CHARLI’s kinematics are like that of a human, with muscle-like actuation and compliance and flexibility at his joints, like tendons.

I’m looking forward to getting up-close and personal with CHARLI-L and CHARLI-H as RoMeLa continues their cutting-edge research. Maxon Motors and National Instruments have been heavily involved in these projects, donating hardware and software for their designs. Specifically, the current design for CHARLI-H uses an NI  sbRIO embedded controller, Maxon motors and Maxon EPOS2 motor controllers; all of CHARLI-H code is written in LabVIEW graphical programming software.

Additionally, it was announced that Dr. Hong will be a keynote speaker at NIWeek 2010. As such, he’ll be bringing some of his posse from RoMeLa, both human and robotic, to the Austin Convention Center this year. So expect some more details on CHARLI and other RoMeLa projects in the weeks to come.

MiNI Hubo Walks: Part 2 of series April 9, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in labview robot projects.
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Karl Muecke, one of our newest engineers on the LabVIEW Robotics development team, picked up MiNI Hubo the other day and decided it was time walk.

Using his background in humanoid locomotion and some VI libraries he developed for DARwIn back in grad school at Virginia Tech, Karl was able to get MiNI Hubo walking in less than two days.

Here’s MiNI Hubo’s first steps, at Karl’s desk:

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: