One of the stories to come out of Busan Robot World 2009 is that KAIST SDIA (System Design Innovation & Application Research Center) is developing an SOC (system on a chip) platform for tank robots as well as hobby humanoids such as Robotis Bioloid, Hitec Robonova, and Robobuilder kits. The platform has been in development since 2002, but only this year is an official tournament taking place with about 16 teams competing in one-on-one fighting matches. Team Samsung “UPGRADE” won the competition, and took home $2700 USD in prize money.
Any kit could potentially utilize the system regardless of size differences, because it consists of a camera (mounted to the robot’s head), microphone, and CPU (attached to the robot’s chest). The platform adds image recognition, speech recognition, and bluetooth wireless communications. The camera and other sensors return data such as an object’s position and distance which is used to decide the robot’s motions. So far the project is being used specifically for robot fighting tournaments, allowing a robot to autonomously perform 94 separate attacks depending on the situation, but theoretically could be used for a number of other applications such as autonomous soccer matches.
If there’s one thing that hobby humanoid robot kits need it’s more sensors and software to parse the data. Who doesn’t want their hobby kit to have image recognition or speech synthesis right out of the box? And what about SLAM? Hopefully initiatives like the one at KAIST SDIA will help raise the bar.