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Canadians Teach Darwin-OP Robot to Ice Skate, Play Hockey

Jennifer could be the first autonomous humanoid robot ice hockey player in the world

1 min read
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. 

[ University of Manitoba ] via [ Robots-Dreams ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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