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Darwin the robot to play soccer

Engineering students from Virginia Tech build a robot that will be the first-ever U.S. entry in an international humanoid soccer challenge.


Finally, a happy convergence of Darwin and intelligent design.

Students at Virginia Tech started building a two-legged robot so they could emulate the way humans walk and then develop prosthetic limbs for patients. But their robot Darwin is skilled enough at walking that it secured a spot to compete in RoboCup, an international robotic soccer competition, according to Virginia Tech.

The team, which is from Virginia Tech's Robotics & Mechanisms Lab (RoMeLa), said Darwin is the first-ever U.S. robot to be accepted in the humanoid division of the competition, to held in China in July. The students will display Darwin at the RoboDevelopment 2007 conference in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday.

Darwin, short for Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot With Intelligence, was designed with National Instruments' LabVIEW graphical system so it has a full range of motion and can imitate human movement, according to the team.

"Our students used (the technology) 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," RoMeLa Director Dennis Hong said in a statement.