CHARLI IN CHARGE
Dr. Dennis Hong and his legion of robotics students at Virginia Tech’s
Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory aren’t content to rest on their
laurels. Having been the first US team to compete in RoboCup’s
Humanoid League with DARwIn (already up to its fourth model; see
coverage in our Sep ‘07 issue), they’re now ready to unveil CHARLI
(Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence) —
the first complete, untethered, autonomous full-sized humanoid robot
designed and built in the US. And they’re building two of them. There’s a
lightweight version which stands approximately 135 cm ( 4' 5”) tall, weighs
12. 5 kg ( 27. 5 lbs), and has 20 degrees of freedom. Using what appear to be
powerful Dynamixel servos, the team had only $20,000 to acquire the
necessary parts and materials. It will compete in the Adult Size Humanoid
League at this year’s RoboCup competition. Then there’s CHARLI-H: a
heavier, more sophisticated version that has a completely different set of
legs with custom actuators that will allow it to perform even better.
BANKING ON GOOD DIRECTIONS
Say you’ve got a giant banking center. It has nine buildings and
5,500 employees. That’s great, but you can’t get any business done,
because all 5,500 people get immediately and hopelessly lost as soon
as they step outside their cubicles. Solution? Robots of course!
Santander’s Group City in Madrid has employed a swarm (their
word) of futuristic “interactive guest assistance” robots to help
people find their
way around the
place. And you
couldn’t tell you
where to go.
LA, LA, LA, LA, LOLA
Having previously developed a biped named JOHNNIE in 2001, the Technical University of
Munich and the Institute of Technology Autonomous Systems (TAS) are developing its successor
called LOLA. The robot — which has been in development for six years — is capable of
planning its own walking trajectory through a room in real time using image data. Due to the
processing power required to perform image recognition, LOLA is connected via cables to
three computers which handle this task.Also at Hannover Messe 2010, LOLA was able to
detect obstacles in its way such as chairs or people, and modify its path accordingly.
LOLA stands 180 cm ( 5' 10”) tall, weighs 60 kg (132 lbs), and has a total of 25 degrees of
freedom (two legs x7; two arms x3; waist x2; head x3). While most humanoid robots have only
six joints per leg, LOLA has an extra toe joint which reduces load and increases its step length
and walking speed. The robot’s mechanical structure was carefully designed for optimum
strength and efficiency with lightweight components. To help maintain balance, it is equipped
with gyro sensors in its upper body and six-axis force sensors in its feet.
LOLA will soon be capable of running, however, this is a fairly new development. The
researchers hope they’ll eventually be able to reach a speed of 5 km/h, which is more in line
with a human’s top walking speed.
26 SERVO 06.2010