Virginia Tech: Develops humanoid robot with NI LabView

Austin, TX - Engineering students from the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech have developed a bipedal humanoid robot using National Instruments LabView graphical system design platform. The Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence (DARwIn) was developed to study human locomotion for research and development of prosthetic limbs.
By Control Engineering Staff November 6, 2007

Austin, TX — Engineering students from the

Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa)

at Virginia Tech have developed a bipedal humanoid robot using

National Instruments

LabView graphical system design platform. The Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence (DARwIn) was developed to study human locomotion for research and development of prosthetic limbs. DARwIn achieves full range of motion and accurately imitates human movement so well that it was modified to play soccer for entry into RoboCup, an international robotic soccer competition to promote research in robotics, artificial intelligence, and related fields. It was accepted as the first U.S. entry into RoboCup in the humanoid division.

Virginia Tech students study human locomotion for research and development of prosthetic limbs using National Instruments LabView software.

“Our students used LabView to design an expandable software platform as well as serve as DARwIn’s brain, giving it the ability to perform high-level tasks, including playing soccer,” said Dennis Hong, director of RoMeLa. “Development time was also reduced by simulating how DARwIn would behave when performing certain tasks and being able to quickly design, prototype and deploy simulated code to an embedded target.”

Using LabView, a graduate student with no prior image processing experience used IMAQ Vision to configure two IEEE 1394 cameras and, in two hours, wrote a VI that identified and physically located the relative position of a soccer ball. Ease of use made it possible to create DARwIn’s soccer-playing behavior in one week.

National Instruments is proud to be collaborating with Dr. Hong and his talented students on such an impressive project,” said Ray Almgren, National Instruments vice president of product marketing and academic relations. “We see tremendous educational benefits in using the LabView graphical system design platform, and projects like DARwIn are a testament to the things students are able to accomplish with embedded design.”

RoMeLa, which uses multiple robotic platforms, required a system that could be easily configured for different hardware setups. Students were able to create an expandable computer architecture using the LabView Real-Time Module to accommodate a range of sensors, including those incorporated in IEEE 1394 cameras, RS-485 communication devices, and multiple wireless networks. LabView controls DARwIn’s motion over RS-485 and can read joint positions on the same serial network from the servo motors’ built-in potentiometers. As the robot walks or moves, a rate gyro with acceleration and orientation information communicates with LabView over an RS-232 serial connection; the program modifies the walking gait to balance the robot in real time.

NI recognized the work at its NIWeek 2007 event as overall best application of virtual instrumentation .

Virginia Tech College of Engineering

has a dozen departments, including Electrical & Computer Engineering, Industrial & Systems Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, with 300 faculty, 5,500 undergraduate majors, and almost 2,000 graduate students. Robotics, autonomous vehicles, and supercomputing are among online highlights.

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