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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.

Extra, extra! Read all about it – EETimes Digital Edition on Robotics March 30, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in industry robot spotlight.
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The newest digital edition of EETimes has just been released and is chock-full of interesting articles focused specifically on the current robotics landscape. From military to medical and everywhere in between, check out what’s going on in robotics today:

RoboCup 2009: Robot Rescue League Team Spotlight February 25, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in labview robot projects, Uncategorized.
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Get up close and personal with RoboRescue Team FH-Wels, from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. These students and researchers have an impressive resume of participating and winning in a variety of worldwide robotic competitions.

Their latest success: building an autonomous robot to compete in the 2009 RoboCup Rescue League, a competition where autonomous robots navigate through a small-scale obstacle course of complex, unstructured terrain in search for victims awaiting rescue.

Their white paper is extremely informative, providing a breakdown of the hardware and software design. The team wisely chose commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies for their robot design, including a notebook PC and haptic joystick for the command station, a D-Link router for communications, an NI sb-RIO for the onboard processing, a Hokuyo 2-D laser range finder for mapping, an Xsens IMU for localization, an NI Compact Vision System for image processing, and lots more. To piece it all together, they used LabVIEW for software programming.

One blog post wouldn’t do them justice, so I figured just embed their white paper. It serves as an excellent reference design for anyone building an UGV for search and rescue applications.

And here’s a video of their robot in action: