CHARLI was born in the lab of Dennis Hong, the robot maker who was chosen as one of Popular Science's Brilliant 10 in 2009
- Popular Science
A group of undergraduate and graduate students at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) have unveiled CHARLI, which they are calling the first full-sized, walking, untethered, humanoid robot, complete with four moving limbs and a head, to be built in the United States. While walking robots are nothing new, this one's humanoid counterparts, such as Petman and Honda's Asimo, are apparently disqualified for lack of height, autonomy, and nation of origin.
Dennis Hong is the founder of VT’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory and the leader of the student team that built CHARLI-L. We’re seated at a workbench inside the University of Pennsylvania’s robotics lab, run by Hong’s friend and collaborator Daniel Lee. Hong’s students are here to show CHARLI-L to Lee’s students, to prepare for RoboCup 2010, held in June in Singapore, and to discuss upcoming partnerships. Hong (winner of a 2009 Popular Science Brilliant 10 award) and his students have produced chemically driven, amoeba-like robots; a spider-like ’bot called STRiDEr, whose swinging walk is modeled on the human gait; and a system by which blind adults can make guided yet independent decisions as the drivers of their own cars. Lee’s students build complex software to govern robot behavior and human-robot interaction. These are some of the most accomplished robotics engineers in the field. But as I watch the students fiddle with CHARLI-L, it begins to dawn on me how much work stands between CHARLI-L and the RoboCup trophy, to say nothing of how much work it will take to reach a future full of robot helpers.