Team DARwIn takes First Place at RoboCup 2011
They may not be able to "Bend it Like Beckham," but last week the pint-sized robots of Penn and Virginia Tech's Team DARwIn dribbled, kicked, threw and blocked their way to first place in the Humanoid Kid Size competition at the 2011 RoboCup tournament in Istanbul, Turkey.
The robots, whose name stands for “Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence,” resemble Astro-Boy and were particularly skilled at the throw-in competition, where a robot must pick up a soccer ball and throw it back onto the pitch.
Penn Engineering team members who traveled to the competition included Stephen McGill, Seung-Joon Yi, Yida Zhang, along with Jordan Brindza, Ashleigh Thomas, Spencer Lee, and Nicholas McGill, who are undergraduate and graduate students in the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. Team members from Virginia Tech included Jeakweon Han, a Ph.D. student in the RoMeLa Lab, and Taylor Pesek, an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering. For the competition Penn developed the software framework that provided each robot with artificial intelligence (AI). This AI guided the robots' walk, vision, and gameplay, among other things.
RoboCup, and competitions like it, drive the advancement of sophisticated locomotion and intelligence for humanoids in a specific scenario where humans already display their prowess in motor skills and decision-making. "These competitions are important for robotics because they take the amazing research done in laboratories and push it to be more robust in real world situations," said McGill. "In competitions, there are rarely "do-overs" and it is important to make sure that robots can adapt to many unforeseen obstacles. The the end results are resilient and feature-full humanoid robots that are better able to work alongside humans."
In the Kid Size Class, Team DARwIn beat several teams, including a team from Japan for the championship (watch the video above for the action!). The DARwIn 1 platform was introduced in 2004 and was a revolutionary humanoid robot prototype at the time, and has been followed by several incarnations since. DARwIn-OP was introduced this past year and is a fully open source design, where all information on the hardware is to be shared on-line for free, including detailed plans and drawings, manuals for fabrication and assembly.