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U.S. droids carry the day at 2011 RoboCup finals

Engineers from Virginia Tech are bringing the Louis Vuitton Humanoid Cup to the U.S. for the first time.

5-foot-tall CHARLI-2 won in the adult-size class. Virginia Tech

America's robot might won the day at the RoboCup 2011 tournament in Istanbul, Turkey, with a team from Virginia Tech dominating the field.

Teams DARwIn and CHARLI from the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) are the first U.S. groups to win the adult-size and kid-size classes, taking home bragging rights along with the Louis Vuitton Humanoid Cup, a prestigious crystal trophy that was held by Germany and Japan in the past.

The team's 5-foot-tall humanoid robot CHARLI-2 (that's Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence) made its debut in the RoboCup this year, beating Singapore's Robo Erectus 1-0 in a kicking challenge in the adult-size class.

As this video shows, CHARLI-2 moves like a very frail old man. But the robot was already famous last year when Virginia Tech heralded it as "the first untethered, autonomous, full-sized, walking, humanoid robot with four moving limbs and a head, built in the United States."

The lab's miniature humanoid DARwIn-OP, developed with engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania, won the kid-size class, defeating Japanese team CIT Brains 8-1. The final seen in the video below shows that the kid-size matches are far more exciting.

RoboCup robots have made progress since I saw my first games in 2005, but they have a long way to go before the tournament's goal of fielding a team of humanoids against the best human players in the world by 2050.