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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 U.S. team to compete in RoboCup’s Humanoid League with DARwIn (already up to its 4th model), 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 United States.

The U.S. has been the birthplace of several large humanoids before (MIT’s Cog, NASA’s Robonaut, Boston Dynamics’ PETMAN) but they’ve all been incomplete (either an upper or lower body only).  Drexel’s Autonomous Systems Lab has built a version of HUBO 2, but the actual design was done by Prof. Jun Ho Oh in South Korea.  AnyBots‘ Dexter remains tethered, and while hobbyist Dan Mathias has been working on a complete full-sized humanoid named ATOM-7xp, but details are a bit murky, and it’s most certainly not autonomous.  So while several universities and companies around the world have built complete full-sized bipedal humanoid robots, it has taken until now for the U.S. to get in on the action.

And they’re building two of them.  The version shown here, CHARLI-L (Lightweight) stands approximately 135cm (4’5″) tall, weighs 12.5kg (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.  CHARLI-H (Heavy) is a more sophisticated version that has a completely different set of legs with custom actuators that will allow it to perform even better, but so far only one of the legs has been built.

Today Virginia Tech did an official spotlight on CHARLI, and Dr. Dennis Hong was just on the Engadget Show this past weekend.  While we’re still waiting for video of CHARLI-L walking, check out the photos tucked under the break.

[source: Virginia Tech’s official spotlight] & [VA TECH RoMeLa]



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