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Blind Driver Challenge – Next-Gen Vehicle to Appear at Daytona July 2, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in industry robot spotlight, labview robot projects.
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The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has just announced some ambitious plans inspired by RoMeLa. According the their recent press release, they have partnered with Virginia Tech to demonstrate the first street-legal vehicle that can be driven by the blind.

We saw RoMeLa’s work awhile back and featured the technology used in their first prototype. The NFB was immediately convinced about the viability RoMeLa’s prototype demonstrated and put them to work on a street-legal vehicle with some grant money. The next-generation vehicle will incorporate their non-visual interfaces with a Ford Escape Hybrid, reusing many of the technologies they used in their prototype. The drive-by-wire system will be semi-autonomous and use auditory and haptic cues to provide obstacle detection for a blind driver.

The first public demo will be at the Daytona International Raceway during the Rolex 24 racing event. News coverage is popping up all over the place.

If you can’t make it to Daytona, RoMeLa will be showing off their first prototype (red dune buggy) at NIWeek in August, in case anyone wants to take it for a spin.

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:

Meet Mini Hubo: part 1 of series March 31, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in labview robot projects.
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Meet Mini Hubo, a small, humaniod robot based on an original,  full scale humanoid design by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The original Hubo was replicated and scaled smaller in size by RoMeLa at Virginia Tech  since not everyone has the funds or resources to have their own life-size humanoid walking around the lab; Dr. Hong and his students created a more accessible version. The goal of Mini Hubo is to serve as an affordable and open-ended research platform to expand knowledge in the human robotics field.

Since we’re good friends with the engineers at RoMeLa, we recently got our hands on a Mini Hubo here at NI. One of our interns, RJ Gross from Drexel University, spent some quality time with the robot, which we began to refer to as MiNI Hubo, since all of our robots have some sort of emphasis on “NI” (see NIcholas, DaNI, NIro, NItro, GreeNI, etc). As a result, RJ will be sharing a lot of the LabVIEW code he developed to control MiNI-Hubo (coming soon!).

In the meantime, here’s some mechanical specs on our MiNI Hubo:

Height: 46cm

Weight: 2.9 kg

DOF: 22 (but don’t worry, Mini Hubo comes with documentation that includes his forward and inverse kinematics, whew!)

Motors: Robotis Dynamixel RX-28 (LabVIEW drivers for these particular motors will be published soon, so you can get your hands on them too)

Controller: We chose to use the FitPC2 to controller our MiNI Hubo, although the humanoid platform is flexible, so you could use practically anything, like Gumstix, NanoATX, PC104, etc.

OS/SW: Our MiNI Hubo is programmed using LabVIEW Robotics and runs Windows on the FitPC2. RJ will be publishing a white paper on running LabVIEW on the FitPC2 soon as well. But again, depending on what controller is selected, the OS/SW is flexible.

Vision: We used a USB webcam. This is also a flexible option for Mini Hubo.

Power: Lithium-ion polymer batteries

We’ll be getting more up-close and personal with this robot in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. I have some video of MiNI Hubo walking at one of the cubicles in R&D that I look forward to sharing.

For anyone considering who’s interested in a Mini Hubo of his/her own, be sure to contact RoMeLa. They sell the Mini Hubo platform to researchers.