The “promise” that robots would eventually be capable of playing soccer at the same level as their human counterparts has seemed almost like a pipe-dream. Humanoid robot performance has improved over the years, no question. But most of them have either been extremely expensive, or required a lot of support infrastructure, and their autonomous operation appeared quite hesitant and questionable. That's all about to change.
The DARwin series of humanoid robots, developed under a National Science Foundation grant, was grabbing lots of attention, and awe, at RoboCup 2010 in Singapore last week. Here's a look at the DARwin-LC version:
The DARwin project objectives are very simple and straightforward:
“This project develops the DARwIn-miniature-humanoid-robot platform with advance computational power, sophisticated sensors, high payload capacity, and dynamic motion ability to enable many exciting research, education, and outreach activities. Two models of DARwIn robot, DARwIn-HP (High Performance) and DARwIn-LC (Low Cost), will be designed, fabricated, and built for distribution to 11 partner universities (including major research universities, RUI institutions, a women's college, and two local high schools) to establish a humanoid-robotics community. The project engages the humanoid-robotics community in a concerted effort to advance humanoid robotics.”
The DARwin-LC configuration has 20 degrees of freedom, with two of them devoted to the camera/head pan&tilt. The robot uses Robotis AX-18F high performance servos, and is sure to gain a lot of attention, and business, for Robotis and their popular line of Bioloid robot kits.