Canadians Teach Darwin-OP Robot to Ice Skate, Play Hockey
When a Canadian gets their frigid little hands on a robot, you can be sure that one of two things will happen: either they'll send it into space, or they'll teach it to play hockey.
Since Darwin-OP (last time I checked) was not certified against either the harsh environment of outer space or guaranteed not to go crazy and kill a bunch of astronauts, it looks like this particular robot (who lives up at the Autonomous Agents Laboratory of the University of Manitoba) will just have to learn how to play hockey instead. Her name is Jennifer, and she might actually be the first autonomous humanoid robot ice hockey player in the world:
Jennifer's just a beginner, and she's got a ways to go before she'll be able to convince anyone that hockey is a real sport. Getting a robot to skate isn't easy, but it's certainly possible, and a pair of customized aluminum roboskates (currently on order) should help. The other tricky bit is the aiming and shooting: Darwin already comes with ball tracking and the ability to aim kicks at a goal, but using a hockey stick to aim a puck at a goal sideways is an entirely different skill.
Aside from being what looks like a lot of fun, this project is a submission to the Darwin-OP Humanoid Application Challenge, to take place at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), and we'll see all the videos (and learn whether Jennifer takes home the gold) at ICRA in Minnesota this May.